Salmon sales help UK exports hit record high

Salmon sales help UK exports hit record high

Sales of British salmon have helped exports reach a record high for food and drink in the first half of this year, according to the latest industry figures.

Salmon exports jumped by more than 53% to a value of £408m, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) report said.

UK food and drink exports overall rose 8.5% to £10.2bn, helped in part by a drop in the pound since the UK decided to leave the European Union.

UK's top 10 food and drink exports

1.      Whisky

2.      Salmon

3.      Beer

4.      Chocolate

5.      Cheese

6.      Wine

7.      Gin

8.      Beef

9.      Pork

10.  Soft drinks

Whisky held its place as the UK’s top export, with salmon in second, and beer overtaking chocolate to take the bronze spot.

Despite this, whisky exports actually fell by 1% while beer exports fell by 2.2%.

The pound’s fall against the euro and the dollar has largely provided this boost with it becoming cheaper for foreign countries to purchase British products.

On the other side of the coin, the weaker pound has increased costs for British businesses that rely on importing food and drink from abroad.

Ian Wright , Director General of FDF, said: “The growth of food and alcoholic drink exports is very encouraging. We want to work with Government to take advantage of increased demand for UK products overseas and the opportunities that leaving the EU is expected to create.

“We believe there are significant opportunities to grow our sector's exports further still. The continuing weakness of sterling is a concern. However, we hope that with the determination of businesses and the assistance of Government, we can open more channels and provide a further boost to the UK's competitiveness on the world market.”

Another factor impacting the increase in UK salmon exports has been the decline in Chilean exports since algal blooms killed large amounts of their fish in 2015.

The three biggest importers of UK food and drink are Ireland, France and the United States respectively.

The three export markets that saw the greatest percentage growth were South Korea (+77%), China (+35%), and Belgium (+39%).

The rapid growth in exports to East Asian markets has been led by South Korea quickly gaining a taste for British beer.

The FDF recently commissioned an economic contribution report which found that China, India, and the UAE were the top three target markets that British food and drink companies would like to target.

Food Minister George Eustice said: "We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time.

"Last week we announced further market access to China for pork producers and UK beef will soon be heading to the Philippines. We will continue to work with industry to open new opportunities.”