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Record value for UK food & drink exports

UK food and drink exports

Export of UK food and drink continued to soar last year, to a record value of over £22 billion in 2017.

With UK food and drink businesses now selling their products to 217 markets, export values were boosted by large increases in sales of milk & cream (increasing by 61%), salmon (23%) and pork (14%).

An increasing thirst for British tipples has also seen bottles of UK beer appearing on shelves as far as Japan and New Zealand, while international sales of UK gin brands exceeded £500 million.

From January to December 2017 the UK exported £85 million worth of cheese to France, £21 million of chocolate to Belgium and even £2 million of tea to China.

This growing hunger for UK produce reveals the huge opportunities for producers and manufacturers as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

The US remains the largest market outside of the EU – worth £2.3 billion last year and rising 3% from the previous year, whilst China is now the 8th largest export market for UK food and drink. Over £560 million worth of food and drink purchased by Chinese consumers last year, who showed a particular preference for UK salmon, whisky and pork.

Food and Drink Federation Director General Ian Wright CBE 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 upon 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.

Major UK exports include:

  • Whisky (£4.5 billion)
  • Salmon (£720 million)
  • Chocolate (£680 million)
  • Cheese (£623 million)
  • Beer (£603 million)
  • Shellfish (£600 million)

Top 5 countries the UK export food and drink to:

  • Irish Republic (£3.7 billion)
  • France (£2.3 billion)
  • USA (£2.3 billion)
  • Netherlands (£1.5 billion)
  • Germany (£1.4 billion)


Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs