Chocolate export value growth for UK in Q3

Chocolate was among the top ten food and drink products exported from the UK in the third quarter, according to new data, with exports reaching £30.9 million ($41.2m).

In its quarterly Exports Snapshot which highlights key UK food and drink export figures for the third quarter of 2017, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) shows that although chocolate registered a 6.6% increase in value sales, volumes dropped 2.7%. Year-to-date (January to September) value totalled £501.9m.

Overall, the quarter further growth, building on the strength of the first half results seen earlier this year. Exports of all UK food and drink grew to £5.9bn during the period, up 14.7% from the same period last year. This represents year-to-date growth of 11% to £16.1bn, compared to the same period in 2016.

From January to September, Ireland, France and the US remained the top three destinations for UK food and drink in terms of overall value. The US remains the UK’s top non-EU market for exports of food and drink, reaching £1.6bn, up 7.7%. Growth was reported in all top 20 markets during that time period, apart from Spain, which saw a 7.1% decrease due to reduced sales of barley and wheat (-78%).

The balance between exports to non-EU and EU markets shifted slightly in the third quarter, with growth to non-EU markets (+18.2%) out-performing EU markets (+12.5%). There has been rapid growth in the sector’s exports to the Philippines (+289.1%), Latvia (+116.1%), and Iceland (+73.2%).

Higher demand for breakfast cereals (32%), soft drinks (179%), chocolate (112%) and fruit (4,140%) contributed to the overall increase in food and drink exports to Iceland.

Exports of branded products grew by 14.3% in the third quarter, reaching £1.5bn, and up 12.7% to £4.3bn for the first nine months of the year. This means branded export growth is on track to reach FDF’s export ambition ahead of schedule.

Despite the growth recorded, the UK’s food and drink trade deficit increased by 0.7% to -£5.6bn in the third quarter of 2017 as trade deficit with EU countries widened.

As part of the government’s industrial strategy, FDF is developing sector deal proposals to boost specialist export support for the industry, with an aim of delivering ambitious long-term export targets for the industry.

Exports were highlighted as an area of opportunity for manufacturers in the economic contribution report conducted by Grant Thornton. In the report, China, India and the UAE emerged as the top three markets that exporters would like to target, however food and drink businesses continue to struggle to enter these markets due to complexities, cost and unfamiliarity.

Ian Wright CBE, director general at FDF, says, “Exports to non-EU markets did outperform those to EU markets in the last quarter but the EU remains our number one trading partner. With fewer than one in five food and drink manufacturers exporting, it is vital that we continue to work closely with government in order to take advantage of the opportunities to sell Great British and Northern Irish food and drink abroad.”

Elsa Fairbanks, director at the Food & Drink Exports Association (FDEA), adds, “Our challenge is to ensure that new exporters have the confidence to develop markets closer to home and the skills and knowledge to explore the important but often complex markets further afield.”

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