Exports snapshot: Full Year 2020

14 May 2020

We publish regular reports outlining the latest UK food and drink export statistics, which can help your company to prioritise markets for exporting. Our reports include: data on the UK's top food and drink exports, key export markets, areas for growth, and updates on FDF's trade-related policy work.

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  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on businesses operating across the food and drink sector. Exports fell by 9.7% compared to the previous year, with the value amounting to £21.3bn. This fall began early in Q1, when COVID-19 restrictions first had an impact in February and March.
  • Despite sporadic re-openings of the hospitality and travel sectors throughout the year, UK food and drink exports declined substantially in all quarters.
  • However, an easing of restrictions and the need for businesses to move goods into the EU before the end of the transition period meant that exports only declined by 1.7% in Q4 2020.
  • Unfortunately, we expect the partial recovery of exports in Q4 to only be temporary. Early data for January suggests a further reduction in the value of exports to EU markets, with the full data set to be published in the FDF’s forthcoming Q1 Exports report.
  • A decline in value of exports in 2020 was seen in both EU and non-EU markets, falling by -8% and -12.1% respectively. The trade deficit continued to grow, with the dependence on imports increasing by 9.2% compared to 2019.
  • Most of the top 10 food and drink products exported by the UK were negatively impacted by COVID-19 and restrictions of movement. However, branded products demonstrated continued growth.