Latest figures from market
development network Food from Britain have revealed that
the UK?s food and drink export market has experienced a
record-breaking year, comfortably exceeding the ?11bn
mark for the first time ever.
In 2007, despite the backdrop of a challenging global
economy and the resurgence of Foot and Mouth Disease,
the UK?s exports smashed the 2006 record by 9.1%
bringing export figures to ?11.45bn and this strength
shows no signs of waning, despite an increasingly
difficult market ahead.
Chris Brockman, Research and Consultancy Manager at Food
from Britain, said: ?Breaking the ?10bn barrier in 2006
was incredibly significant as it was the first time
since BSE and Foot and Mouth Disease outbreaks that the
export market had reached this level of business.
Chris continues: ?In the mid-1990s, beef exports had
reached ?0.6bn alone ? to lose that, and still see total
food and drink export performance grow in recent years,
shows the resilience of the industry as a whole, which
is why the latest outbreak of Foot and Mouth has had
minimal impact on the annual results. The latest figures
have more than surpassed our ambitious growth
predictions and, with such a solid base, we expect that
UK exports will continue to climb even though we are now
entering a internationally testing economy.?
Significantly, food and drink exports grew ahead of
imports for the first time in five years and while the
trade gap has risen to around ?15bn, this shows how
dynamic the UK?s export market has become.
All major product categories recorded positive results
during the year, with the exception of soft drink
exports which declined by 12.7 per cent to ?15,141m, due
to a decrease of sales to a number of key European and
North American markets. Poultry meat represents the
largest UK export sector, valued at ?200.4m, with strong
growth to most of Europe. Beef, once the backbone of the
UK?s export market, continues to perform well,
recapturing lost export markets and registering a 36%
value growth in 2007 (but still well below the pre-BSE
Chris Brockman added: ?The outbreak of Foot and Mouth in
2007 slowed the growth of a recovering meat industry but
the impact on the food and drink export performance as a
whole was negligible. I am optimistic that the high
levels of innovation and efficiency that UK food and
drink manufacturers continue to display, coupled with
the growing reputation of UK food and drink worldwide,
will help curb the difficulties of a slowing economy and
the impact of rising global food costs, and we should
experience an ongoing increase in UK exports.?
Seafood, cheese, cereals and confectionery strong
UK total exports of fish and seafood amounted to
?1,003.6m in 2007, increasing by 5.2% compared to the
previous year. Similarly, dairy products have continued
their run of popularity abroad, with export sales
increasing by 11.9% to 805.4m in 2007, driven largely by
cheese. Figures for cereals and bakery exports went up
by 10.2% to ?1,361.7m while international sales of UK
confectionery products also rose steadily to ?444.3m.
Tea and coffee exports also climbed 3.5% to ?178.9 in
Ireland continues to be the leading export market and,
with UK imports totalling ?2.242bn, and with 12.4%
growth on 2007, the country is set to continue as the
lead export market for years to come. France is the UK?s
second largest export destination, with ?1.384bn worth
of goods imported in 2007 and a modest 0.8% growth rate.
The US has recorded a small decline in UK imports, but
with the weak dollar set against the strong pound, this
was perhaps inevitable.
Gibraltarians lead the way in the per capita consumption
of the UK?s food and drink, followed by Irish and the
Maltese. Chris Brockman says: ?It is perhaps
unsurprising that the highest per capita consumers of UK
food and drink tend to be located in either British
ex-pat or tourist markets. Countries that represent good
starter markets because of their proximity and
receptiveness to British products and suppliers, such as
Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium and France, also show
high per capita consumption of UK products.?
Development markets drive growth
In the EU, it is the new member states that have paid
the highest dividends, albeit from a modest base.
Slovakia registered a 112.5% growth (to ?8.5m) and
Estonia recorded considerable growth of 44.9% to ?46.5m.
Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have witnessed a
boom in demand for new food products and an increase in
tourism has fuelled the demand for imported items,
although local cuisine still dominates.
Strong performance in Non-EU markets came from the
emerging economies of Russia (+14%), fuelled by growing
demand for premium and speciality food; Dubai (+20%),
fuelled by a continuing boom in the tourism and leisure
infrastructure; and India (+32%), where an increasingly
affluent middle class of 350 million are looking for new
food experiences; as well as Singapore (+61%), where
there was an increase of over 80% in exports of Scotch
whisky as the country acts as a regional distribution
hub for the rest of South East Asia.