By Cedric Porter
UK food and drink exports have been impacted by Covid-19 and Brexit, but there is a fundamental strength about the quality and integrity of British food that means it is in demand across the world.
Phil Hadley, international market development director at AHDB, said the selling points for British food and drink were quality, safety, environmental integrity and high animal welfare standards.
“In surveys, British food scores very highly when it comes to quality and safety," said Dr Hadley.
"Britain does have a good reputation for good food and the there is enormous positive recognition for the Union Flag. Another plus is the number of products with Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status.”
There are 68 products from the UK and its Crown Dependencies with PGIs – 13 meats, five meat products, 16 cheeses or dairy products, eight fruit and vegetables, 11 fish and seafood products, five beers or ciders, one baked product, one wool, eight wines or spirits and one salt.
There is also increased interest in British products with high environmental or animal welfare status, said Dr Hadley.
“We recently did a virtual event promoting British beef and lamb in California. There is a real interest in ethical meat in the state and there was a lot of interest in British standards.”
AHDB has continued with virtual export events during the pandemic and since the start of the year regional representatives have exhibited at events in China and the Middle East.
It is also working with the NFU and Food and Drink Federation to mentor exporters, as part of the Department of International Trade’s Open Doors export promotion programme, which includes match-funded grants of £9,000 to help develop exports.
“There are still glitches in trade data after the UK’s final departure from the EU’s customs union, but it is clear that exports of some products such as meat to the EU are down,” said Dr Hadley.
“Some of those issues may not be sorted without changes to the regulations, which may happen when they also apply to EU exports to the UK. In the meantime, British exporters are adapting to the changes and for some it has opened up the possibility of exporting to non-EU exports when previously they had only traded within the single market.”
The re-opening of restaurants in Europe following a drop in Covid-19 cases should give a boost to speciality products such as cheeses and to meat such as lamb which is back on menus, he added.
Interest in other British meat products to markets further afield has also increased despite the pandemic, with fifth quarter cuts, offal and pig meat popular in African and Asian markets, especially China.
“All the data suggests that the greatest future growth will be in Africa and Asia as populations increase along with spending power," said Dr Hadley.
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