Andrea Leadsom © Tom Nicholson/LNP/Rex/Shutterstock© Tom-Nicholson/LNP/REXShutterstock

A five-year export strategy to open new overseas markets for UK agriculture is being drawn up by the government, Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom has revealed.

The strategy to take the UK’s food and drink sector to the next level is being devised as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

“The events of recent months mean plenty of export opportunities lie ahead,” said Mrs Leadsom. “We now have a chance to forge a new role for ourselves in the world.”

See also: Brexit – Farm exporters share market worries

The government’s aim was to make sure British food products were household names “from New York to Nairobi”.

Mrs Leadsom said she also hoped to encourage more exports in terms of volume and agricultural commodities, as well as niche products.

Strategy

Mrs Leadsom was speaking during a visit to the headquarters of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

“Our export team works closely with the Department for International Trade to make sure that food and drink is a core strand of their global export strategy,” she said on Thursday 13 October.

Across the UK, producers have already exported £10.8 billion worth of food and drink in the first half of this year – an increase of almost 6% on 2015.

The drive to increase exports is being backed by Defra’s Great British Food Campaign, which aims to support emerging British companies to export overseas.

Mrs Leadsom will also promote British food exports as part of a UK government delegation to the SIAL agricultural fair in Paris next week, followed by a visit to China.

Horizons

The implications of future trade policy for agriculture are examined in the latest AHDB Horizon publication.

The report explores how trade deals with the EU and the rest of the world following Brexit may affect UK the livestock, cereals and oilseeds, and potato sectors.

Report co-author Stephen Howarth said: “The sustainability and viability of food production businesses in the UK are underpinned by its relationship with the rest of the world.

“But the balance of imports and exports, as well as our levels of self-sufficiency, vary widely from sector to sector.”

The AHDB had “taken a long, hard look” at where those differences were and how they could be turned into an opportunity in future.

Mr Howarth said: “Increasing productivity and profitability across the supply chain will also be critical in a post-Brexit world.”

This was especially so in sectors where major global exporters were more competitive.