Exports of South West food and drink increased to £760 million in the year to March 2018, an increase of 7% compared to the previous 12 months, the latest HMRC figures show.
The most popular products from the region overseas were meat (£97m) and dairy products and eggs (£148m).
The statistics also show that more firms in the region are targeting China, with 24% more food and drink exported to the country during the period, when compared to the previous twelve months.
One business that’s seen an uplift in sales first hand is Wellington-based Somerdale International. The dairy company exports British cheese brands to more than 50 countries worldwide including the US, Australia and the Caribbean, and has announced plans to double its exports to China in the next two years.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) have been supporting food and drink businesses such as Somerdale International in the region as part of the Food is GREAT campaign, the UK Government’s cross department initiative to showcase UK food and drink overseas and to help firms to export.
Food Minister George Eustice said: “Our food is known for its high quality and great taste and there has been a huge growth in the worldwide demand for British produce.
“Through the Food is GREAT campaign the government provides invaluable support to food and drink companies in the South West so they can access foreign markets and see their businesses grow.
“I hope these latest figures – which show the success of local businesses who have branched out abroad – will encourage other firms to take the first step in their exporting journey”
As part of Defra and DIT’s support, a number of South West based companies have been able to visit overseas markets around the world on trade missions recently, including the Food and Hotel China (FHC) show in Shanghai and Gulfood in Dubai.
Paul Shand, Head of Export – South West at the Department for International Trade (DIT), said: “Many South West food and drink firms, from breweries to cheesemongers and crisp makers to ice cream producers, are already benefitting from a growing overseas appetite for local produce.
“Businesses taking the leap into exporting and succeeding are doing so as a result of having well-considered business plans, capitalising on government initiatives to help them foster buyer relationships in new markets, and by having a good understanding of tariffs, regulations and logistics – all of which local government trade advisers can help with.
“There’s plenty of support on hand to help companies that are hungry to sell overseas. And we have a team of dedicated International Trade Advisers in the South West to get firms started.”