Significant drop in F&V imports from the EU in the first quarter

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BThe country’s fruit and vegetable imports from the EU have fallen by around 15% in the first three months of 2021 and are expected to decline further when full controls are implemented at the UK border in January 2022.

That’s the news from the Food and Drink Federation, which released its trade figures for the first quarter of the year.

Among the top 10 British products imported from the EU from 2019 to 2021, vegetables fell by 13.9%, fruit by 15.7% and wine by 20%.

Animal products have also been hit hard, with sharp declines in EU imports of pork, cheese, chicken and beef.

Overall, UK food and drink imports from the EU fell by 10%, due to a number of factors linked to Covid-19 and Brexit. These include the continued closure of the UK hospitality sector, storage at the end of 2020, reduced demand for ingredients due to lower exports to the EU and substitution of imports, FDF said.

This drop in imports is expected to increase, according to the trade body, when full border controls are implemented at UK ports from early next year.

There has also been a sharp decline in trade with the EU on the export side. The UK does not generally export large volumes of fruit or vegetables, but trade in other products has been seriously affected.

All of the UK’s top 10 products exported to the EU declined significantly in value from 2019 to 2021, with whiskey dropping 32.3%, chocolate by 36.9% and lamb and mutton by 14, 3%.

Dairy products have been the hardest hit. Compared to 2020, exports of milk and cream to the EU fell by more than 90% and cheese exports by two-thirds during the same period.

Total food and drink exports fell 47% due to the continued impacts of Covid-19 and post-Brexit changes in UK trade relations, FDF said.

Exports to the EU fell by £ 2 billion compared to the first quarter of 2019, as shipments to almost all EU member states declined significantly.

Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade at FDF, said: “The loss of £ 2 billion in exports to the EU is a disaster for our industry and is a very clear indication of the scale of losses to which manufacturers Britons are facing the long term. due to new trade barriers with the EU.

“We have developed a plan to mitigate these impacts by strengthening support for exporters, and this has been supported by the Trade and Agriculture Commission. The government must stop procrastinating and support these proposals to help exporters who have been excluded from trade with the EU. “

Sales to Ireland have fallen by more than two-thirds, while sales to Germany, Spain and Italy have fallen by more than half since the first quarter of 2020.

In contrast, there has also been a return to strong growth in exports to East Asia, where demand for high-quality UK food and drink is strong.

In the first quarter of 2021, exports to China (+ 28.2%), Hong Kong (+ 3.7%), Japan (+ 6.2%) and South Korea (+ 18.5%) were all above the levels observed in the first quarter of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic triggered the early closure of the hotel sectors.

The UK’s top three non-EU markets, the US (11%), China (5%) and Singapore (3%), now account for 19% of total UK exports, a figure of 713 million pounds sterling.

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