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Food and Beverages

The value of food, feed and drink exports from the UK was £20.1bn in 2016, whilst imports to the UK stood at £42.6bn. This gave a trade deficit of £22.5bn in 2016. The value of both imports and exports has been rising in real terms over the long-term, and the trade gap has also been widening over the long term.

The highest value of imports to the UK was fresh or prepared fruit and vegetables (£10.3bn). The highest value of UK exports within food, feed and drink in 2016, was alcoholic beverages at £6.8bn, £4.1bn of which comes from whisky. This makes whisky the highest valued individual commodity exported by the UK. At present, EU regulations impose much higher standards on whisky than those in the US, meaning that cheaper products from the US which have been aged less than 3 years cannot be branded as whisky in the UK.

In 2016, the highest proportion of UK food, feed and drink exports went to countries in the EU (60%), with ROI the top-ranking destination (£3.3bn). The top non-EU destination for exports, and second country overall after ROI, was the USA (£2.1bn). Most of these exports were highly processed (60%), only around 10% were unprocessed.

The highest proportion of UK imports by value were also from the EU (70%), the top-ranking source country being the Netherlands with £5.1bn. The top non-EU country from which food, feed and drink items were imported into the UK, and 10th country overall after various EU countries, was the USA (£1.3bn). Of these imports, 40% were lightly processed, and around 35% were highly processed.

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