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UK food and drink exports reach record levels

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An increase in exports to the USA and China helped global exports of UK food and drink rise to a record-breaking £20bn last year, says Defra. Food and drink exports grew in total by nearly 10% in 2016, according to government figures.

Exportsto the USA were up 12%, while the value of pork exports to China climbed to £43m. The figures were published ahead of a keynote speech by Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom to the NFU annual conference in Birmingham on 21 February. Mrs Leadsom said that the figures confirmed that food and drink exports showed no sign of slowing, following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The speech is designed to increase the focus on international trade.

Only one in five food producers exports, so Mrs Leadsom said a government team was working to help UK companies tap into new export markets.
As well as opening up new export markets, the government would continue its focus on taking advantage of European export markets, she said. France and Germany are among the priority export markets identified in a UK action plan for food and drink initiated last October.

The government is focusing through this plan on forging stronger links with key export markets including the USA, Canada, China and India to generate an extra £2.9bn in exports over five years. Food and drink manufacturers welcomed the focus on exports; Director general Ian Wright said: “Exports of food and drink reached record levels last year and we’re committed to building on this success going forward.

“We’ll continue to work closely with government to help existing and new food and drink exporters take advantage of the growing international demand for our produce.”