The latest export figures from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) show that the value of branded food and non-alcoholic drink exports rose to £2.4bn in the first half of 2016, an increase of £141.2m (+6.2%) when compared to the same period in 2015.
Branded exports to non-European Union (EU) nations rose by £93.7m (+14%) on H1 figures from 2015, while exports to the EU also increased by £47.5m (+2.9%). Exports to non-EU nations now represent 31.4% of all branded exports, up 2.2pp on H1 of 2015.
Total exports of food and non-alcoholic drink grew by £528.3m (+8.7%) to £6.6bn, between H1 of 2015 and H1 of 2016, following a fall in overall exports in 2015, the first in ten years.
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A weaker pound at the start of 2016 meant UK exports were competitive in the first half of the year. With the price of the pound falling further since the end of June 2016, following the EU referendum result, it is expected there will be a further rise in exports before the end of the year.
The three export markets which saw the greatest value growth from H1 of 2015 to H1 of 2016 were Malaysia, up £46.9m (+268.5%), China, up £24.1m (+100.9%) and the United States, up £21.1m (+31.6%).
Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands made up the top three export destinations for branded UK food and non-alcoholic drink, with exports to the value of £598m (+1.2%), £228.6m (+7.6%) and £196.6m (-1%) respectively.
The top three product categories were chocolate, salmon and wheat, with exports of vegetables, both prepared and fresh, experiencing the largest value growth, up £27.7m (+17.9%) in H1 of 2016, when compared with H1 of 2015.
FDF has set an ambition to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third to achieve a total value of £6 billion by 2020. The 'Exports – Five Steps to Food and Drink Exporting Success' guide, developed by FDF and the Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), was recently launched as part of an enhanced partnership aiming to help more of Britain's 6,500 manufacturers to export.
Ian Wright CBE, Director General, FDF, said:
“Following a weaker performance in 2015, the growth of value added exports we've seen in H1 is excellent news for our industry and a positive step toward achieving FDF's export ambition. It's also very pleasing to see non-EU exports performing beyond expectations, with UK firms taking advantage of increased competitiveness.
“We eagerly await the launch of DEFRA's export plan to see how government intends on supporting our industry overseas in a time of prospective economic uncertainty.”
Elsa Fairbanks, Director at Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), said:
“FDEA is very encouraged by the improved export performance for the first half of 2016 which reflects the commitment that many food and drink companies are making to grow the international side of their business.
“A significant number of our members are reporting that their export customers are now proving to be a vital part of a thriving business.”