UK food and drink exports reached £5.8 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a record high for first-quarter sales values, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
Overall export growth of 10.7 per cent against 2018 was helped by strong performances by the alcohol industry, with Whisky, Gin and Wine at the forefront.
Whisky was the top export with exports increasing by 19.2 per cent to a total value of £1.1 billion, while Gin exports rose by almost one-third to £155.4 million.
The figures were compiled from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) data, which showed that food and drink exports to non-EU markets grew faster than exports to EU markets, at 12.2 per cent against 9.9 per cent.
The Scotch Whisky Association estimates that 300 million standard bottles of Scottish Whisky were exported in Q1 2019, as a spokesman said: “Growth has been particularly strong in the Asia-Pacific region, up 37 per cent on 2018 to 75 million 70cl bottles, with India and China in double-digit growth.”
The growth rate reported is more than double the same period last year, with growth in excess of 20 per cent reported in six of the UK’s top 20 export markets.
Ian Wright, Chief Executive of the FDF, said: “The food and drink industry continues to out-perform expectations, delivering another quarter of exceptional exports growth despite the damaging uncertainty with which businesses have to contend.
“With the right support in place, our industry could deliver so much more. We urge the Government to co-invest in our Sector Deal proposals and help us to provide the support our industry urgently needs to further enhance this growth.”