Whisky and chocolate continue to top export list

Fri 7 Dec 2018
Posted by: Sam Pileggi
Trade News

whisky and chocolate

Whisky and chocolate continue to top the UK's food and drink export lists, according to new research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The analysis shows that food and drink exports increased by 1.8% to £16.4bn from January to September 2018, when compared to the same period in 2017. Exports of branded goods grew by £35.2m to £4.3bn, up 0.8%.

The food and drink trade deficit narrowed by 1.3% and it now stands at -£18.0bn, which is £243.0m lower than the same period in 2017. Export growth to EU markets (+4.1%) was positive, while exports to non-EU markets declined (-1.8%), with the EU exports share growing to 62.1%.

All of the top 10 export products reported growth in January to September, apart from beer and salmon. The fall in exports of salmon, down 20.1%, is primarily a result in a fall in sales to France (-19%) and the US (-36.2%). In volume terms, this represents a decline of 16.6 thousand tonnes, which is equivalent to £94.3 million.

Top 10 products exported by UK food and drink businesses:

  1. Whisky
  2. Chocolate
  3. Cheese
  4. Salmon
  5. Wine
  6. Gin
  7. Beef
  8. Beer
  9. Breakfast cereals
  10. Soft drinks

For the first time, the FDF also completed a regional comparison of exports, which showed that England has shown growth of just 6.2%, compared to the increase of 9.2% seen in Wales. Similarly, FDF analysis of English regions reveals that the East Midlands and North East of England recorded the slowest growth rate for food and drink exports between 2015-2017, growing by just 2.6% and 0.8% respectively. These rates are much lower than leading export regions, with the South East showing growth of 8.4% and London 7.2% during the same period.

The variation in growth across nations and regions indicates that there may be businesses in some parts of the country where export potential remains untapped. 

Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation, said:

“Despite the tumultuous times, UK food and drink exports continue to grow. These results record a very creditable performance across many product categories and destination markets. However, it is clear that businesses must work ever harder to deliver. Access to high quality market insight, advice and practical support is increasingly vital for success. That's why the FDF is seeking collaboration with DEFRA, BEIS and DIT. We believe that together we can deliver ambitious new methods of export support which will give us the tools to take on our rivals in the highly competitive global food marketplace.”


If you are a food and drink producer interested in finding out about the opportunity of selling internationally, take a look at our Food & Drink Export Workshop.

Offered in partnership with Food and Drink Exportese Ltd. (the Management Team behind the successful Food and Drink Exporters Association), is designed to help you as a food and drink producer in learning more about exporting and how to get started.