Exports of branded British food and non-alcoholic drinks shot up by nearly 14 per cent in the third quarter after the steep plunge in the pound since the vote to quit the European Union.
The Food and Drink Federation said that its latest export figures represented the biggest quarterly export sales it had recorded and built on the second quarter, “which was in turn the largest [increase] up to that point”.
The overall value of all exports, including food and drink commodities, rose to £3.4 billion in the third quarter, up 12.1 per cent on last year.
Ian Wright, director-general of the federation, said that the latest figures showed “impressive double-digit growth, with total exports of £10.1 billion during the first three quarters of 2016”.
Much of the increase in exports is being driven by the weaker pound, which has meant that British exports have become increasingly competitive. Sales to non-European markets have grown at twice the rate of those to the EU during the third quarter, although Europe still remains the top destination for branded exports.
The three export markets with the greatest value growth in the year to date were Spain, up by £158 million, China, up by £124 million, and Germany, up by £60 million. However, Ireland, France and the Netherlands remain the top three destinations for branded UK food and non-alcoholic drinks, buying 42 per cent of all exports.
Mr Wright said that the growth in exports was “encouraging news”, adding that the top three product categories were chocolate, salmon and cheese.
Mr Wright said that the growth of exports was a “positive step towards highlighting the excellence of UK food and drink to the world”, adding: “It is very pleasing to see non-EU exports performing beyond expectations, with UK firms taking advantage of increased competitiveness following the currency changes since the summer.
“As the UK leaves the European Union, a growth in exports is hugely important to our sector. We hope that with the determination of businesses, and the assistance of the government’s international action plan for food and drink, we can open more channels and provide support to new and existing food and drink exporters as they seek new markets overseas.”
George Eustice, food minister, said: “Whether it’s Scottish salmon or Wensleydale cheese, the global appetite for the British brand is showing no sign of slowing. These latest figures are welcome news for our food and drink businesses.”