Farmers see food exports rise, but UK could do better

Britain’s food manufacturers are being urged to target overseas sales, but agricultural produce such as fresh meat and fruit has seen double digit growth since January.

Food from Britain, which works to further the interests of UK food and drink producers abroad, said exports grew 3.1% to £4.65bn in the first six months of the year.

Sales of alcohol continued to form the backbone of exports, but FFB said fresh meat exports grew 16% to reach £254m with beef sales up more than a third to £12m.

Cheese exports also rose by a hefty 12% to reach £103m and fresh fruit rose 28% to £51m.

But FFB chief executive, David McNair, believes that opportunities are going begging.

“Although the UK has a £10 billion food and drink export market, we significantly lag behind other European nations such as France and Germany who export twice as much.

“With the reputation of world-class innovators, the UK food and drink industry needs to shed its ‘island’ mentality and become more competitive on the world stage.

“Until this happens, we are unlikely to maximise opportunities overseas.”

Exports to the EU accounted for two-thirds of the total exports, and showed modest growth of 3.6%, mostly to Ireland and France.

But the ten new member states, and Latvia and Poland in particular, proved a lucrative market, with exports increasing 13% to £90m.