News article

19 April 2010

Food exports hit all time high

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Exports of food and non-alcoholic drinks have hit record levels, according to new research for the Food and Drink Federation. With food and drink exports growing in value by 4.4% to £9.65bn in 2009, a fifth consecutive year of growth, the food and drink industry significantly outperformed other manufacturing sectors, which experienced an 11.8% slump in overseas sales.

Within the overall export success of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, key highlights include:

  • Non-alcoholic drinks was the best performing sector, growing 20.6% to £318.6m, driven by strong sales in EU markets such as Ireland, France, Spain and Germany
  • Fish and seafood was up by 15% to £1160.4m, including a 42.3% rise in the exports of fresh salmon.
  • Other added value product areas in strong growth included breakfast cereals (up 17.2%), sauces and condiments (up 9.2%) and sugar confectionary (up 10.9%).
  • Case study material (see below for more details) include Welsh sea salt used to make Barack Obama’s favourite chocolate caramels, a burgeoning Asian taste for traditional English lemon curd, a Paprika crisp designed for the Holland market now successful across Europe and Indian chutneys spicing up diets in Germany, Switzerland & Japan

The EU remains the main destination for UK food and drink exports, accounting for 79.2% of overseas sales. But significant growth has been recorded outside Europe – with sales to the Oceania region up 15.9% and exports to North America jumping 14.8%.

Melanie Leech, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, said:

“This is the fifth consecutive year of record exports by the food and drink industry – demonstrating the significant economic value of our sector. This strong performance is testimony to the persistence and entrepreneurial spirit of British manufacturers – as well as a reflection of the quality of what they produce. I am proud of the fact our sector has continued to report significant overseas success at a time when UK exports as a whole have taken a significant hit.”

More Information

FDF Press team
Cath Wilkins on [email protected] or 020 7420 7132
Sarah Lovell on [email protected] or 020 7420 7131
Rebecca Wilhelm [email protected] or 020 7420 7140

Some of the stories behind this year’s success:

The Anglesey Sea Salt Company Ltd (Sauces & Condiments category)

The Anglesey Sea Salt Company Ltd was founded 10 years ago on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales and now supplies its signature ‘Halen Môn’ salt crystals to 22 countries across the globe. An impressive 45% of the company’s annual turnover comes from exports sales, with key markets in Europe and Hong Kong. Their most successful products are Organic Celery Salt, which is loved by the Italians, and Oak Smoked Salt, which appeals to the Spaniards and which is used on President Obama’s favourite chocolate caramels, made by Frans Chocolates in Seattle.

Burts Crisps (Prepared Foods – crisps category)

Devon based maker of hand fried potato chips, Burts Crisps owes 25% of its turnover in 2009 to its exports sales – its best figure yet. Its chips are now available in 18 countries worldwide and the company sees a substantial part of its continued success and growth as coming from exports. It anticipates that it is set to grow its exports by up to 33% of turnover in 2010. Burts Sea Salt flavoured hand made potato chips is the company’s best seller across Europe. Holland is Burt’s most successful market accounting for 32% of its exports, and it was for the Holland market that they specially developed the highly successful Paprika flavour crisps, which have since proved to be a success in other markets.

Dart Valley Foods (Sauces & Condiments category)

From the heart of rural Hampshire, Dart Valley Foods exports traditional gourmet British foods across the globe. Its top market is Germany, followed by France and Holland. Exports are an important part of the company’s business approach and accounts for around 10-15% of the company’s annual turnover – a figure that has held steady in recent years. Their latest exports missions have identified interest in their products in countries such as Finland and Austria. Asia has also shown a particular interest in traditional British tea-time foods such as Lemon Curd which is the company’s top export product.

Dorset Cereals (Breakfast Cereals category)

Established in 1989, Dorset Cereals produce premium breakfast cereals from its factory in Poundbury in Dorset, including mueslis, porridges, cereal bars and granolas. Exports account for 20% of its turnover and Dorset Cereals’ recipes are available in more than 70 countries. The Company’s exports have increased significantly in the last few years and are an important part of its growth strategy, particularly with reference to the North American and European markets. To date, muesli is its most successful export product and its biggest markets are currently the US, Canada, the Netherlands and UAE, selling well in the major retailers in all those markets.

Eat Natural (Breakfast Cereals category)

Producer of fruit and nut snacks and breakfast cereals at their ‘Makery’ in Halstead in Essex, Eat Natural increased their exports by 25% in 2009. By devising a targeted sales strategy to break into new markets in Europe, the brand is now successful in Holland, Denmark, France and Sweden. Eat Natural’s success story in its export market in 2009 is also due to changes in the global economy, which Eat Natural played to their advantage, offsetting its Euro imports with its Euro exports. The result has been this tremendous boost for the business, meaning that there’s been no price increase hitting the consumer.

Geeta’s Foods (Sauces & Condiments category)

London-based Geeta’s Foods is a truly modern British exports success story, championing Britain’s love of Indian food around the world. Manufacturer of chutneys, pickles, sauces and cooking pastes, this company has increased its exports by 86% over the last three years, accounting for 19% of its turnover in 2009. Its ‘most successful markets are Germany, Switzerland and Japan, where well-travelled consumers or those with a taste for something ‘different’ have warmed to their products. Geeta’s chutney’s and Regional Sauce range are their most popular export products, with chutneys adding a new dimension to traditional European cuisine. Exports are a key focus for the company with a future goal of achieving 40% of sales coming from exports.

Macphie of Glenbervie Ltd (Sauces and Condiments category)

Macphie have been creating innovative, premium food ingredients for over 80 years, producing a wide range of products, from cake and bread mixes and concentrates, to sauces, toppings and desserts. The company saw their 2009/10 overseas volumes with European wholesale customers increase by 16% over the 2008/09 period. In France alone, some specific product ranges experienced a massive 45% increase in volume with a major client. Year-on-year growth in the Middle East was 9%, and following their engagement in this emerging market, one of Macphie’s key clients has committed to a further expansion of orders amounting to a 53% increase in volume.

Typhoo (Non-alcoholic Drinks category)

Typhoo Tea was established in the UK in 1903 and since then has grown from strength to strength to become one of world’s best-loved tea brands. Its products, which include both hot and cold beverages, are enjoyed in over 40 countries worldwide. Exports accounts for 7% of their turnover, with the aim to grow to 10% in 2010. The company’s exports have increased over the last few years, including new markets such as West Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Australia and New Zealand, where the Typhoo brand has strong appeal to the British expatriate community. Their current top markets are North America, Central Europe and Scandinavia.

United Biscuits (Sweet Biscuits category)

McVitie’s Digestives is just one of United Biscuits’ brands that enjoys popular appeal abroad, enabling the company to achieve year on year growth in exports which in 2009 accounted for around 5-6% of its annual turnover. Makers of several well-loved British brands such as Carr’s Table Water biscuits and Jacobs Crackers, United Biscuits top markets for 2009 were North America, Asia, Middle East and Australia. The company views exports as a key area for growth in 2010.

Vimto (Non-alcoholic Drinks category)

Nichols PLC has exported its flagship Vimto® brand since 1920 when the taste became popular in India. Since then the Vimto® brand has carved out a substantial market share in the Middle East and Africa and is now present in over 65 countries worldwide. In 2009 Vimto® enjoyed another successful year internationally with sales increasing by 33% to £12.0 million. In the well established Middle East market exports grew by 40% year on year with growth across both cordial and carbonated products. In Africa Vimto® increased the level of locally manufactured product, invested more in marketing and launched Vimto® into South Africa, which resulted in sales increasing by 11% in this region. In total, consumption of the Vimto® brand outside the United Kingdom reached a record 413 million litres in the year. Exports are vital to Nichols PLC, accounting for 16% of its turnover in 2008.

The Weetabix Food Company (Breakfast Cereals category)

For the manufacturer of cereal brands Weetabix, Alpen and Weetos, The Weetabix Food Company exports account for 12% of the company’s turnover with the biggest volume of business in European markets. Exports are important for the company because consumption of breakfast cereals and cereal bars are growing significantly outside of the UK and especially in the Middle East and Far East markets. Weetabix breakfast cereal accounts for 46% of the company’s total export business, and its best markets are in Northern European markets where it has brand heritage and where health is a key consumer motivation. The company expects to continue to expand it’s exports activities, especially in markets such as the Middle East which has seen a significant 30% year-on-year growth in the past two years.

Westaway Sausages (Meat category)

Westaway Sausages export their Authentic Butcher’s style sausages all over the world. They began their exports activities five years ago and since then have seen both the volume and the number of countries it supplies to increase every year. The company produces traditional British Sausages at its factory in Devon, and now owes 5% of its annual turnover to its exports success. It’s most successful markets are in Hong Kong, France and the Falklands, and it is constantly improving brand presentation and marketing abroad which is bringing extra sales and new customers.

Other Useful Statistics

Top 10 export markets for food and non-alcoholic drinks

  1. Ireland (£2,589.0m)
  2. France (£1,211.4m)
  3. Netherlands (£847.8m)
  4. Germany (£659.9m)
  5. Spain (£579.7m)
  6. Italy (£451.0m)
  7. Belgium (£373.5m)
  8. United States (£303.0m)
  9. Denmark (£160.2m)
  10. Portugal (£153.6m)

Top 10 fastest growing export markets for food and non-alcoholic drinks

  1. Vietnam (£20.3m, up 68%)
  2. Egypt (£74.1m, up 42.9%)
  3. Ukraine (£16.5m, up 31.0%)
  4. China (£49.7m, up 30.7%)
  5. United Arab Emirates (£89.2m, up 18.3%)
  6. Israel (£35.9m, up 18.2%)
  7. United States (£303.0m, up 17.4%)
  8. Australia (£80.7m, up 17.2%)
  9. Singapore (£21.3m, up 16.9%)
  10. Malaysia (£22.6m, up 16.7%)


Top 10 food and drink export products, 2009

Rank Products 2009 (£m) % change 2008-09
1 Breakfast cereals 413.4 17.2
2 Chocolate 365.9 1.1
3 Lamb 311.9 18.6
4 Fresh fish 309.0 28.2
5 Soft drinks 291.5 23.4
6 Cheese 282.6 0.5
7 Beef 257.5 20.8
8 Crustaceans 238.9 -1.4
9 Poultry 229.3 5.5
10 Sweet biscuits 220.9 8.3

















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