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Exports to EU rise

Food and drink now enjoying ‘Brexit dividend’

Scottish seafood

Seafood was among the hardest hit after Brexit

Food and drink businesses, one of the hardest hit sectors following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, are now seeing a “Brexit dividend”, according to an audit and tax consultant.

Figures for May show UK exports of all goods to the EU climbed 8.8% on April, defying fears that Brexit would dampen trade. Food and drink sales rose 7%.

The UK is now trading at the same level with the EU as before it left the union, with the May haul the biggest since October 2019.

Total exports of UK goods to all countries rose 4.9%.

The rebound in trade between the UK and EU was driven by strong demand from European countries as economies across the bloc reopened.


European firms are likely to have increased spending on UK good after stocks built up in the run up to the end of the post-Brexit transition period were depleted.

Strong exports figures also suggest that firms are finally getting on top of new administrative processes put in place at the year end.

Stuart McCallum, RSM’s head of food and drink, said: “It’s great to see food and drinks exports to the EU for May are up by 7 per cent on the same month last year.

“This is the first time that a direct month on month comparison has shown 2021 outperforming 2020 since the turn of the year; and is a further indication that food and drink businesses are getting to grips with the initial challenges brought about by Brexit.

‘The combination of diversification to target different markets; adapting to a direct to consumer model to counter the dip in hospitality and food service business during the pandemic; and investment in new online channels has helped to rebalance levels of food and drink exports so far in 2021. 

“In addition, food and drink businesses are now seeing a Brexit dividend as the UK is now trading at the same level with the EU as before the UK left the union; but many have also increased activity to other markets enhancing the wider trade opportunities for food and drink businesses across the UK.”

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