14 February 1997

96 food and drink data shows exports rising despite BSE

By Tony McDougal

FOOD and drink exports continued to rise in the middle half of last year despite the huge impact of the BSE crisis.

Latest Food From Britain figures show exports up 1% between April and Sept 1996, even though losses through the worldwide beef ban during the corresponding period were estimated at £300m.

The 1% rise follows the £10bn export figure announced by FFB for the 1995/96 financial year.

Speaking at the International Food Exhibition in London this week, FFB chief executive, Patrick Davis, said: "When one considers the ban on beef stopped exports overnight, and in the early weeks severely hit the dairy industry, it is incredibly impressive.

"There has been a huge jump in added value grain sales, such as breakfast cereals, bread, biscuits and cakes to the United States, France and Spain. Trade to Japan has also risen by 12% compared with a year ago."

But the lack of funding in the beef sector was evident, with the Meat and Livestock Commission forced to pull out from exhibiting at IFE, even though the show attracts 50,000 trade visitors, including 6000 from overseas.

A spokesman for the MLC said the commission had reluctantly taken the view to pull out from several trade shows this year due to a lack of cash.

"We will still go to the Paris SIAL show and ANUGA (Cologne), but felt our presence here was not economically viable. We exhibited here two years ago but felt the quality and nature of enquiries were unsatisfactory."

Mr Davis said he was disappointed by the MLCs action. "We would obviously have preferred them to be here, but one has to accept their commercial decision."

David Rutledge, Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland chief executive, said he was surprised by the MLCs absence.

lChannel Island firm Quality Milk Producers launched a new Gold Top semi-skimmed milk at the International Food Exhibition this week. It retains its higher protein (3.6%) compared to 3.2% in traditional semi-skimmed pintas. &#42

Patrick Davis… Impressive performance on export front.