Plunge in sales
Food and drink exports to EU slump by 24%
Cheese sales fell while whisky exports rose
UK exports of food and drink to the EU have slumped by a quarter (23.7%) since Britain’s departure from the bloc.
Brexit and the pandemic have been blamed for the fall which contributed to a worldwide plunge of 15.9% in exports, according to the Food and Drink Federation.
Exports to core markets such as Germany (-44.5%), Italy (-43.3%) and Spain (-50.6%) have been particularly badly hit since 2019, while UK exports to Ireland – the UK’s biggest overseas market – are down more than a quarter since 2019. This represents a loss of nearly £750 million in sales.
Good news for Scotland is that global exports of whisky and salmon have started to recover, with sales of both products up 21% compared to 2020. Soft drinks also grew, by 11%.
However, all other major products, including beef (-18.4%), cheese (-13.2%) and pork (-5.7%) have continued to decline.
More positive news can be seen in non-EU markets in the past year, with exports up 11%, driven by a return to strong growth in China (+22.1%), Taiwan (+21.8%), the UAE (+18.3%), Japan (+10.6%) and Singapore (+5.4%).
Imports have been badly impacted since 2019, with sales from the EU down nearly 11% in the nine months to September compared to pre-COVID levels – a fall of more than £2.5bn. Imports from the Netherlands (-19%), Ireland (-20.1%) and Germany (-33.1%) were most severely hit over the last two years.
With the UK due to implement its delayed import controls on products arriving from the EU in 2022, the FDF says it will further impact the cost and availability of supplies of food and drink from the EU, including essential ingredients and raw materials required by UK manufacturers.
Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the FDF, said: “It is extremely disappointing to see how badly our trade with the EU has been affected, with our smallest exporters hardest hit.
“It is essential that the Government works constructively with the EU to improve the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure that it works for small businesses, otherwise this downturn will be here to stay.