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‘Disastrous drop’ in UK food and drink exports into the EU


Exports of food and drink from the UK into the EU are in freefall. 

That’s according to new figures released this month by the Food and Drink Federation, showing that exports to the EU have fallen by over 27% in H1 2021 compared to the same period two years ago. Overall, lost revenue totals around £2 billion. 

Exports to Spain, Italy and Germany have fallen by almost half. 

However, some export categories are still seeing growth. Whisky, soft drinks and salmon exports have all increased. And whilst the drop in export activity into the EU has been stark, the total loss of export revenue has been buffered by an increase in non-EU sales of 13%. The share of UK exports moving outside the EU has now risen from 40% to 47% as a result. 

Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the FDF, commented that: “The return to growth in exports to non-EU markets is welcome news, but it doesn’t make up for the disastrous loss of £2bn in sales to the EU.

“At the same time, we are seeing labour shortages across the UK’s farm-to-fork food and drink supply chain, resulting in empty spaces on UK shop shelves, disruptions to deliveries and decreased production. Unless steps are taken to address these issues, the ability of businesses to fulfil vital export orders will be impacted.”

Read more: Post-Brexit trade imbalance as exports from Ireland to GB soar

John Whitehead of the Food and Drink Exporters Association said that there are a number of factors at play, including challenges in the supply chain and the inability to meet customers in person due to the pandemic. 

“There is growing evidence that the complexity of trading with the EU has led to businesses moving operations into Europe and of importers looking for alternative suppliers, contributing to the ongoing decline in both UK exports and UK jobs.”

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