Food and Drink Federation snapshot finds UK exports to EU, including chocolate, remain down

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has produced its second industry trade snapshot with the EU that revealed export figures remained down for the month of February, according to its latest analysis, reports Neill Barston.

Its latest review comes in the wake of January’s data that showed chocolate sales to Europe slumped by 68%, from £41 million, to £13 million compared against the same period the previous year.

The organisation’s figures covering February showed an improving picture, but results were still down 5% on 2020’s performance, to £39.8million, with results across food and drink segments continuing to be impacted.

Following the publication of ONS trade data, the organisation examined key areas of the sector and found that companies continued to find significant challenges surrounding Brexit and the additional financial and administration costs and time that handling increased documentation required.

Consequently, import figures revealed that chocolate was in fact the only category to increase imports to the UK, by 8.7%, to £138.5million, as the broader trend for increased consumption in confectionery and snacks continues amid the pandemic.

A notable factor in the situation come into play at the beginning of May, when the Brexit agreement signed in December, finally came fully into effect, though there remain considerable concerns across the sector in regard to assistance for businesses in managing additional costs with export and import trade.

Discussing the snapshot, Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade at FDF, said: “While UK food and drink exports to the EU have improved from a 76% fall in January, they are still down nearly 41% in February 2021. Exports to our biggest market, Ireland, have also dropped more than two thirds. UK businesses continue to struggle with inconsistent and incorrect demands at EU borders, and small businesses have been hardest hit due to the collapse of groupage distribution into the EU.

“New EU import requirements for composite products entered into force this week, adding even greater complexity, cost and uncertainty for UK exporters. It is essential that the EU-UK Partnership Council and its Trade Specialised Committees are convened to urgently address problems with the implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure small businesses are not shut out of trade by this trade deal.”

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