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Govt Looks to Increase Food Exports

27 January 2012, at 6:58am

UK - A Government-backed drive to boost exports of British food and drink to high growth markets like India and China will be an engine for economic growth, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said today.

With rapid world population growth and booming consumer demand for Western products in high growth economies, there are significant opportunities for British producers to increase profits.

UK food and drink exports grew by 12 per cent in 2010 to £16.1billion, but the UK still exports more food to Belgium than to Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico put together.

The Farming, Food and Drink Exports Action Plan, published today, sets out how Government and industry will work together to open up and take advantage of key markets.

It includes plans for a domestic drive to encourage and support manufacturers to succeed overseas, as well as an overseas campaign to champion British food abroad.

Launching the action plan, Mr Paice said: “British food is already known the world over for its quality, and with surging world population growth and demand for western products, there are huge opportunities for our producers to tap into emerging markets.

“I’m convinced the sector can become an engine for growth for our economic recovery. It’s crucial we get the right support to business at home as well as championing British products abroad.”

The exports plan was developed by Defra, UK Trade and Investment, industry trade associations, and top exporting companies. A forum was co-chaired by Mr Paice and Paul Grimwood, CEO and Chairman of Nestlé UK and Ireland.

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said: “This is the year of the Olympics – a once in a generation opportunity to showcase what makes Britain Great. The quality of our food and drink is famous around the world and we want to see many more SMEs exporting to high growth markets.

“Food and drink exports are already worth over £16bn a year. But, we can do much, much more. By working together, Government and industry can help British food producers unlock their potential and take on the world.”

Mr Grimwood said: “The UK food and drink industry has an ambitious vision to grow 20 per cent by 2020. The industry’s exports have grown in each of the last six years, and the Exports Action Plan will drive further export growth in the future.

“Thousands of UK food companies, large and small, can grow their business by exploring export opportunities. The Government-backed Export Plan will champion open markets and the removal of trade barriers, and provide SMEs with the support and confidence they need to sell the best of British food and drink around the world.”

The project steering group which developed the action plan along with the export forum included Defra, UKTI, Food and Drink Federation, Food and Drink Exports Association, Scotch Whisky Association, and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

Top British exports include whisky (£3,514m), beer (£536m), chocolate (£376m), breakfast cereals (£367m) and soft drinks (£327m).

The Exports Action Plan is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/food/exports/