Huge collapse in UK food and drink exports to the EU

The UK food and drink industry is facing a major crisis as exports to the EU collapse. A report published by the Food and Drink Federation compared exports in January 2020 to January 2021 using HMRC data. They tell a story of an industry in real trouble. 

This is putting jobs in the sector at risk. The UK Food and Beverage sector employs 430,000 people, with employment having grown by 19% in the last decade. This major threat to workers comes at a time when the economy is already facing a crisis because of COVID-19.  

Some parts of the sector have been hugely hit. Salmon exports to the EU are down 98%, whisky down 63 per cent and cheese down by 85 per cent.  

Data compiled by the Food and Drink Federation from HMRC

Trade unionists and bosses alike are rounding on the terrible UK-EU trade deal. It doesn’t include an agreement on food and animal welfare regulation. As a result, exporters in this sector now face costly and time consuming red tape in order to sell their goods in the EU.  

Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at Food and Drink Federation:

“It is extremely worrying that our exports to the EU have fallen by more than 75% in January.

“Businesses face significant challenges when trading with the EU and small businesses in particular have been shut out because groupage distribution is not working. In the absence of solutions, EU exporters will face much the same difficulties when the UK’s full border operating model enters into force in 2022.

“It is clear that the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) will not change and businesses face unavoidable changes to the terms of trade. However, there are opportunities to address the implementation of the deal. The EU-UK Partnership Council and its Trade Specialised Committees should be convened as a matter of urgency to put in place solutions that deliver the TCA’s aim of enhancing the ability of small businesses to benefit from trade.”