British food and drink exporters have suffered a “disastrous” £2 billion loss in sales to the EU, the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) said today as it revealed latest international trade figures.
In the briefing, FDF reports that food and drink exports to non-EU countries have been recovering (up 13% in the first half of 2021).
Despite the return to growth in key international export markets – China, Singapore, Australia, Japan and the Gulf most notably – overall sales of UK food and drink are down £2bn compared to pre-Covid levels, because of the sharp drop in sales to the EU.
A combination of the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and new barriers to trade resulting from the new trading arrangements, have led to a fall in exports to the EU of more than a quarter since the first half of 2019. Exports to nearly all EU member states fell significantly, including a loss of more than £0.5 billon in sales to Ireland, while sales to Germany, Spain and Italy are each down around a half since the first half of 2019.
Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade, the FDF, said: “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. It clearly demonstrates the serious difficulties manufacturers in our industry continue to face and the urgent need for additional specialist support.
“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”
John Whitehead, Food & Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), said It was “pleasing to see growth in sales to non-EU countries”. But he added: “This in no way replaces the loss of £2.2 billion sales to the EU since 2019. 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.”