Pork exports rise as 2017 sees record global UK food and drink sales

Global pork exports increased by 14% as UK food and drink overseas sales reached £22 billion in 2017, a new record.

UK pork exports increased by 4.8% in volume to 216,000 tonnes with a value of £293 million last year.

UK food and drink products are being sold in 217 markets, with pork, boosted by by strong sales to China, not the only product to make significant new inroads last year. Exports of milk & cream increased by 61%, while salmon was up by 23%.

The new figures released by Defra show some of the biggest UK exports include:

  • Whisky (£4.5 billion)
  • Salmon (£720 million)
  • Chocolate (£680 million)
  • Cheese (£623 million)
  • Beer (£603 million)
  • Shellfish (£600 million)

Top 5 countries we export to are:

  • Irish Republic (£3.7 billion)
  • France (£2.3 billion)
  • USA (£2.3 billion)
  • Netherlands (£1.5 billion)
  • Germany (£1.4 billion)

The figures highlight how the UK is penetrating new and difficult markets. During 2017, the UK exported sent £85 million worth of cheese to France, £21 million of chocolate to Belgium and even £2 million of tea to China. Bottles of UK beer have appeared on shelves in Japan and New Zealand, international sales of UK gin brands topped £500 million

Defra Secretary Michael Gove said: “Farmers, fisherman and our food producers are all helping to deliver a Brexit bonus – with more exports of British food and drink than ever.

“Contrary to the constant negativity of the doom-mongers, the British economy is going from strength to strength showing that a Green Brexit can deliver for the whole country.

He said this growing hunger for UK produce reveals the ‘huge opportunities’ for producers and manufacturers as the UK prepares to leave the EU, highlighting the £2.3bn US market, up 3% from the previous year. China, now a critically important destination for UK pork, is now the 8th largest export market for UK food and drink, worth over £560 million in 2017, with UK salmon and whisky also popular.

Food and Drink Federation Director General Ian Wright said: “UK food and drink is known across the globe for its provenance and quality. We are a proud home to many of the world’s most beloved brands.

“We must now build upon this platform in order to take advantage of new opportunities and the growing global appetite for great British and Northern Irish manufacturing as we leave the EU.”

Last month, industry representatives and government officials held the first meeting of the newly created Food and Drink Sector Council. The Council will work together to boost productivity, meaning industry will be better placed to take advantage of emerging opportunities to access more markets and boost exports as we leave the EU.

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.