Food and drink businesses raised £22 billion from exports in 2017, a record high according to government figures.
UK food and drink firms are now exporting products to 217 countries around the world, with whisky proving the most popular – bringing in £4.5 billion last year.
This was followed by sales of salmon (£720 million), chocolate (£680 million) and cheese (£623 million).
Sales of milk and cream also rose by 61%, salmon by 23% and pork by 14%.
The top five destinations for UK food and drink exports were:
• Irish Republic (£3.7 billion)
• France (£2.3 billion)
• USA (£2.3 billion)
• Netherlands (£1.5 billion)
• Germany (£1.4 billion).
The announcement follows the creation of a new Food and Drink Sector Council, which had its first meeting on 29 January 2018.
The council aims to boost productivity and make the sector more sustainable and competitive ahead of the UK’s planned exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.
Priorities agreed in the first meeting include boosting skills, agricultural productivity, improving nutrition and establishing a sector deal.
Ian Wright, director-general at the Food and Drink Federation, said:
“UK food and drink is known across the globe for its provenance and quality. We are a proud home to many of the world’s most beloved brands.
“We must now build on this platform in order to take advantage of new opportunities and the growing global appetite for great British and Northern Irish manufacturing as we leave the EU.”
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