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2 minute read

Food & Drink exports grow by 5.5% to £5.2 billion in Q1 of 2018

The latest export statistics from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) reveal that Q1 2018 exports of food and drink have grown by 5.5% to £5.2bn, from £5.0bn in Q1 2017. Total exports to EU markets (+8.2%) grew faster than those to non-EU markets (+1.2%).

Each of the top ten product categories saw growth apart from salmon and beer, which were down £40.7m, and £16.1m respectively when compared to Q1 of 2017. Of the top ten product categories, breakfast cereals saw the fastest growth, up 30.3% to £111.2m.

FDF is currently working with Government to secure an ambitious sector deal for the food and drink industry. Amongst the proposals are detailed plans outlining how the industry might fulfil its export potential, building on research undertaken by Grant Thornton which identified markets manufacturers would like to target.

Positive growth was recorded amongst all of the top ten products (including whisky, chocolate, cheese, wine and beef), apart from salmon and beer / Picture: Getty/iStock


One of these markets is Japan, where UK exports of food and drink have grown over the past ten years, but at a rate below the average growth rate of exports from EU27 nations. In Q1 2018, exports to Japan rose by 5% on the previous year to £56.7m.

The Japanese market recorded significant growth in categories including sweet biscuits (119%), pork (88%), soft drinks (90%) and cheese (507%). It is hoped the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the 2020 Olympics in Japan will present further opportunities to build on this growth and strengthen trading ties between the UK and Japan.

The full report, including supporting information about Q1 2018 food and drink exports, can be found on the Exports section of the FDF website, here.

Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive, FDF, said: “Food and drink exports showed continued growth in January-March 2018. This growth was based on robust demand for the UK’s high-quality products. Much of the demand comes from nearby markets, as demonstrated by strong growth to EU27 countries. There are also significant opportunities further afield. However, these require more specialist in-market support. For example, a recent trip to Japan highlighted the strength of demand that exists for quality UK products and the desire to build trading relationships.”

The first quarter of 2018 saw exports of food and drink rise by 5.5% (year-on-year) from £5.0bn in Q1 2017 to £5.2bn / Picture: Getty/iStock


Elsa Fairbanks, Director, Food & Drink Exports Association (FDEA), added: “We are greatly encouraged that 2018 has got off to such a strong start across a wide range of countries both established markets within the EU and emerging markets in Asia. Growth in our largest market, Ireland highlights the need for a frictionless border between North and South.

“It is a testament to the investment and effort that UK food and drink exporting companies are putting into international sales. Hopefully this will encourage more businesses to research new opportunities outside the UK.”

Graham Stuart, Minister for Investment, Department for International Trade, concluded: “It’s fantastic to see an increase in food and drinks exports, showing a clear global appetite for UK produce – with our products enjoyed across the world from the US to Japan.

“As an international economic department, it’s great to see so many British companies exporting their goods and services but we are determined that even more businesses build on this demand.  That is why we provide a wide range of support for UK companies such as our award-winning export credit agency, UK Export Finance, and our International Trade Advisors.”