British food and drink exports to the EU fell £ 2 billion in the first three months of 2021, and dairy product sales plummeted by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.
Brexit, warehousing and Covid controls have been blamed for much of the recession, but the industry has said the figures show structural rather than initial problems with the UK’s exit from the EU.
“The loss of £ 2 billion in exports to the EU is a disaster for our industry and is a very clear indication of the magnitude of the losses that UK manufacturers face in the long term due to new trade barriers with the EU, “Dominic said. Goudie, head of international trade for the Food and Beverage Federation (FDF).
He called on the government to “stop cheating” on proposals to help exporters “excluded from trade with the EU.”
Sanitary and phytosanitary controls, which have been in the headlines in relation to Northern Ireland, apply to all food and drink exports to the EU.
Figures from the HMRC show that dairy products were down more than 90% and cheese exports were down by two-thirds compared to 2020. Whiskey fell 32%, chocolate 37% and lamb and mutton 14% .
Total food and beverage exports to Ireland fell by 70.8% year-on-year, to Spain by 63%, Italy by 61% and Germany by 55%.
Trade in the other direction was also affected. British imports of wine from the EU fell by 20%, fruit by 15.7% and vegetables by 13.9%. Cheese, chicken and beef imports from Ireland and elsewhere also declined.
The drop in exports to the EU meant that sales to the rest of the world, which have stabilized, now account for more than 50% of all UK food and drink exports.
The easing of Covid restrictions fueled “strong growth” in exports to pre-pandemic levels in China, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Exports to China increased by a quarter, driven by growth in the sale of pork, whiskey and vegetable oils, according to the FDF’s Trade Snapshot report.
There is also new hope for a boom in whiskey exports to the United States after Washington and London agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs.