Food and drink exports grew 4.8% in the first six months of 2014, bucking the trend of falling exports for all UK products.
Food and non-alcoholic drink exports hit £6.5bn between January and June, while exports of all UK products dropped 15%) on 2013, largely as a result of a stronger pound, said the Food and Drink Federation.
About £12bn more food and non-alcoholic drink was exported rather than imported – a positive growth in the import/export deficit of 4.9%.
In contrast, the gap between imports and exports of all UK products increased by 84% – in the direction of imports.
Food and drink exports to non-EU countries increased 12% whereas exports to the EU’s 28 member countries increased 4.8%.
However, the EU remained the UK’s biggest export destination, worth £4.8bn (accounting for 74% of exports), compared with non-EU countries at £1.7bn (worth 26% of exports).
Ireland and France remained the UK’s biggest food and drink export markets by value.
Algeria saw the biggest increase in value of UK exports – by a huge 429%. UK exports of skimmed milk powder to the country grew by £37m and cereals by £13m.
Impact of Russia ban
How exports of food and drink will be affected by Russia’s ban on many agricultural products from the EU, will remain to be seen. Certain sectors like dairy are expected to be more severely hit than others. Last year the UK sold £5.4m worth of dairy products to Russia.
Arla stopped production of butter and cheese for the Russian market in August, worth £107m in sales.