Data shows the collapse of post-Brexit UK food and beverage exports

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Whisky, cheese and chocolate producers have seen the largest fall in exports in the food and beverage sector since the vote for Brexit, new figures from HMRC show.

Food and drink exports to the European Union has fallen by more than 75% in the weeks since the Brexit transition ended, new industry figures have revealed.

Analysis of Food and Drink Federation (FDF) figures showed cheese exports plummeted from £45 million to £7 million last January, while whisky exports fell from £105 million to £40 million.

The sharpest decline has been experienced in Ireland (84.9%), Italy (84%) and Germany (80.6%).

Recent figures from HMRC show that the agri-food sector was the most directly affected given that new controls and requirements on health certificates represent a major obstacle to trade.

These new processes produced delays which led some European buyers to cancel contracts and many British companies stopped selling to the EU.

While inventories before Brexit and weak demand in the hospitality sector may have been a factor during the pandemic, the FDF said "a significant portion" of the drop is likely to be down to new non-tariff barriers to trade, which have hit smaller producers particularly hard.

Dominic Goudie, the FDF's head of international trade, characterised the figures as "extremely worrying" and warned that European firms exporting goods to the UK will face "the same problems" when the Government starts to impose import controls later this year.