If you’re in the business of selling food and drink overseas, you may want to listen up: the UK environmental secretary Andrea Leadsom has announced a four-year government plan to boost the country’s food and drink exports by £2.9b by 2020.
As part of the plans, the government is encouraging food and drink companies to start exporting in greater volume, part of a wider approach alongside targeting new markets and enabling more companies to export their products.
This move could provide a huge lift for hundreds of businesses who are looking to expand their horizons over the coming years, and is particularly promising in the face of Brexit.
So what will the plans mean for your business?
What is the objective of the plans?
As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, the government is preparing for the next chapter of global trade, negotiating trade deals with other countries.
The plan is to offset any potential loss from economic partnership with the EU by bolstering UK exports. Setting such a high target is a sign of optimism in the economy, but also in the strength of British businesses.
Which countries/markets does the government want to export to?
The government has identified nine key areas for export growth, including Australia & New Zealand, Mexico & Latin American, USA & Canada, France, Germany, India, China, Japan and UAE & Gulf.
Of those key regions, Germany presents the greatest challenge, with the government targeting an additional £610m raised from exports by 2020. The US & Canada is next most challenging, with a target of £580m in exports. However, each region has its own challenges and niche import interests.
What products do these trade countries want to import from the UK?
Each of the nine regions have varied interests in the commodities coming out of the UK.
According to the action plan, China is the world’s second largest imported beer market, and there is growing demand for UK beers, ciders, wines and spirits across the US and Canada. Mexico and Latin America, too, offer strong potential markets for alcoholic drinks companies – if you’re a small-scale brewery, vineyard or craft gin distillery, that’s good news.
The German market is somewhat different, with growing interest in vegan and organic produce, and Australia & New Zealand are also interested in health & well-being and ‘free-from’ products.
For France, lamb and seafood are currently leading imports from the UK, while increasing access to Japan and China means that exports of beef, lamb, poultry, and seafood will all increase.
How will it affect my business?
The number of new markets and regions being targeted – and the extensive range of products which other countries are interested in – means that there is huge scope for business growth.
This could have a huge impact on British enterprise; businesses like craft breweries or small-batch alcohol distilleries could benefit from increased interest in the UK alcohol sector, while increased meat exports to Japan, China and potentially the US is also good news for artisan producers of British charcuterie and English cheeses.
What support is there for first-time exporters?
The government has promised support across the food and drink industry to export more goods; online services such as Open to Export and courses run by the Department for International Trade are available for business owners.
Similarly, different industry bodies – including the British Beer and Pub Association, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Seafish, Dairy UK, and the Food & Drink Federation are currently working with their members to identify new markets and set new targets for the coming years.
The government has also opened an online programme which will open up exporters to global markets, making it much easier for small businesses to export their products internationally.
Finally, UK Export Finance, the UK’s export credit agency, has come out in support of the plans and agreed to finance viable UK exports if the company is short of finance.
How is the government supporting this level of growth?
As well as dedicating the above resources to help first-time exporters, the government has kick-started the Food is GREAT campaign to promote the value of British food and to raise cultural awareness of the UK’s food and drink heritage and the impressive work being done by producers across the country.
As well as the promotional campaign, industry bodies will engage in networking events at international trade shows and – where relevant – take part in promotional events at global sporting events, like the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Doing so will raise the profile of food and drink products coming out of the UK.
You can see the full details of the government’s food and drink plan here.
107,405 – The weight, in TONNES, of cheese exported from the UK from January to August in 2016.
200 – The number of countries and territories to which the UK exports food and drink
99 million – The number of cases of Scotch Whisky exported worldwide to May 2015.
73 – The number of food and drink products from the UK which have been granted protected regional status, including Cornish Pasties, Jersey Royal Potatoes and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies.