This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

world globe on dining plate with cutlery

Figures released by Defra earlier this week have shown that overseas sales of UK food and drink continued to soar last year, reaching record levels.

Exports of over £22 billion were recorded, with 13.4 million tonnes of goods sent abroad. This represents an increase of more than £2 billion on 2016.

UK food and drink businesses are now selling their products to 217 markets – with sales of milk & cream increasing by 61%, salmon by 23% and pork by 14%.

An increasing thirst for British tipples has also seen bottles of UK beer appearing on shelves as far as Japan and New Zealand, while gin continues to go through a ‘ginaissance’ with international sales of UK brands reaching over £500 million.

From January to December 2017 we also sent £85 million worth of cheese to France, £21 million of chocolate to Belgium and even £2 million of tea to China.

Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 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."


Major 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:

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