South West annual food and drink exports exceed £850m

South West businesses exported more than £850m of food and drink in the year ending March 2019.

The latest figures from HMRC show a surge in South West businesses trading with Singapore, with exports of locally produced food and drink growing by 31% since March 2018.

Overseas sales of South West produced drinks showed the largest growth over the period, increasing by 17% to reach more than £134m.

Pilton Cider, a Shepton Mallet-based premium cider brand, is one example of a local business tapping into overseas thirst for drinks from the South West.

The business recently secured a new contract that will see it ship 900 bottles of its sparkling cider to Hong Kong for the first time. Pilton Cider began exporting in 2015 after noticing international demand for British-made cider, and exports now account for 10% of its total turnover.

Other businesses throughout the South West have been capitalising on increasing global demand for local produce with support from the Food is GREAT campaign.

A cross-departmental initiative between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), the campaign aims to showcase UK food and drink abroad and help companies export.

Food Minister David Rutley said: “It is fantastic to see the growing appetite for the South West’s quality produce in markets such as France, Spain and Singapore. The region’s food and drink exporters are playing a vital role in boosting our reputation across the world.

“Britain is a key player on the global food and drink stage, and these latest figures show that businesses in the South West are more than playing their part in this success.”

Paul Shand, DIT’s Head of Trade in the South West, said: “Famous for its quality and provenance, UK produce is held in high regard around the world.

“In the first three months of 2019 the nation’s food and drink exports were valued at £5.7 billion. With UK food and drink taking centre stage in multiple international markets and opportunity particularly swelling in the US and China, now’s the time for South West businesses to step into the spotlight and put their goods on the table.

“If businesses across the South West are cracking markets on every continent, there’s no reason why others can’t savour the same success.”