Trade Snapshot: Full Year 2023

11 March 2024

The Food and Drink has today published its end of year Trade Snapshot report which covers the period of January – December 2023. The report found that the UK’s largest manufacturing sector had a total export value of just under £25bn, falling 2.0% when compared year on year.


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Nicola Thomas, Director at the Food and Drink Export Association said:

“We are heartened to see the uptick in exports to the EU but fully echo the FDF’s call to government to abandon proposals for ‘not for EU’ labelling which will only serve to compromise future sales growth in the region.

On paper, FTAs potentially offer our exporters trading benefits including tariff concessions, flexible rules of origin and simplified customs. However, Australia, for example, also has FTAs in place with nearly 20 other nations so these deals must translate into practical support for UK companies to ensure they are in a position to fully exploit commercial opportunities -and compete successfully- in these markets.”


  • Exports stood at just under £25 billion, a slight decline from last year, with EU markets doing well, especially Ireland and Spain.
  • Future export growth is threatened with the government proposal to introduce GB wide ‘not for EU’ labelling.
  • Non-EU exports were down, we await for the government’s FTA agenda to materialise and more FTAs to be signed, helping to boost world exports to markets such as the Gulf.
  • A carefully targeted FTA with India would benefit UK manufacturers, increasing market access while also ensuring some UK industries are protected.
  • We urge the government to resume negotiations with Canada to extend EU cumulation, such as was the case for South Korea and Mexico.
  • With non-EU imports down in 2023, it will be interesting to see the impact of the BTOM in 2024, levelling the playing field between EU and rest of world imports.
  • With upcoming tariff reviews with Morocco, Egypt and South Africa, any reduction in export tariffs, and careful reduction of non-sensitive imports into the UK can help boost trade with the African continent.
  • Ireland became our first ever export market to reach £4 billion, demonstrating how important Ireland is for our exports. To ensure it continues to grow, ‘not for EU’ labelling must be reconsidered.
  • Exports to Australia is yet to reach its full potential, however, as businesses begin to start using the FTA, along with the addition of a new attaché in the region, we expect exports to grow in 2024.
  • For businesses to take advantage of new FTAs, government must involve industry sooner, provide clear and business-friendly online guidance, and give as much notice as possible when agreements are coming into force.
  • UK exports to Switzerland are modest, reducing high tariffs in an updated FTA could help boost exports.

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