UK exports of cakes and sweet biscuits increased significantly in 2008, according to the latest report by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), as the low value of the pound made UK products more competitive overseas. The data, supplied by Leatherhead Food International, showed exports of UK biscuits shot up 15.3% to £203.9m and cakes were also buoyant, up 12% to £156.5m.

Canada, Australia and The Netherlands were some of the biggest importers of sweet biscuits, seeing export growth of 35.7%, 38.9% and 26.7% respectively. Fifty-seven per cent of all UK cake exports were to Ireland, up 5.8%, and cake exports to The Netherlands and France rose by 25.5% and 34.7% respectively.

Following an upturn in its exports in 2008, United Biscuits has launched its McVitie’s Digestives brand in France for the first time. Four products will be available - McVitie’s Original, McVitie’s Chocolate, McVitie’s HobNobs, McVitie’s Caramel - and marketing support will kick off this month. The brand saw the most growth in Saudi Arabia (+25%), Greece (+23%) and Australia (+18%), achieved through a variety of measures, including customising the McVitie’s range for individual overseas retailers, raising awareness through TV advertising and successful promotions, said a spokesperson for the firm.

Berkshire-based Handmade Cake Company has also noticed its export orders have been ramping up. "Exports are an increasingly important part of our business - we have certainly noticed that the recent decline of sterling versus the euro has made our cakes an even more attractive proposition to potential customers within the euro zone," said sales director Simon Law. "In the past month, we have made our first delivery to one of Europe’s largest catering companies, based in France."

Bulgaria and Poland have also both significantly increased their imports of bakery, cakes and biscuits, by 302.2% and 225.7% (£3.6m) respectively.