Food and drink exports from the UK have fallen by 12.9% so far in 2020 as manufacturers struggle to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
The data, released by the Food and Drink Federation, showed that exports to key markets including Spain were significantly down (almost 34% into the Spanish market), whilst sales of the otherwise export success story of whisky dropped the most – down 19% to just over £900 million.
Q3 2020 saw an 11.6% exports decline compared to the same period last year, with both exports to the EU and non-EU markets falling.
Head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation, Dominic Goudie, commented on the findings that ensuring a quick return to growth will be essential to the industry as the UK looks to continue its economic recovery from the pandemic.
The UK’s food and drink sector is also struggling to find enough vets, an issue which could cost up to 75% of trade volume into the EU from next year.
Export health certificates must be signed by an official veterinarian to confirm that certain food or animal products meet import requirements, but a lack of qualified and available official vets in the UK could see delays.
In September this year, the British Meat Processors Association warned that Britain simply doesn’t have enough vets to deal with export inspections post-Brexit, with chief executive Nick Allen commenting that: “We have been pressing the Government for three years now to lay out the details of exactly how these barriers to trade will be dealt with. They have known since the beginning that we will need an army of extra qualified vets to cope with the 500% increase in workload.”
“All the guidance in the world is useless if we are not able to complete required export paperwork because of a chronic shortage of vets. If this is not addressed, £175 million per month of meat exports will be at risk.
“The bottom line is that British companies cannot prepare effectively for Brexit because the UK Government is not keeping to its side of the bargain by putting in place the right measures and resources and failing to give us the answers we desperately need.”
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