Make UK/Santander report blows hot and cold on UK food and drink
7 Jan 2020
The food and drink sector contributed 15.9% of UK manufacturing’s total Gross Value Added (GVA), according to the latest yearly statistics provided by Make UK and Santander in their annual sector report.
The figures for 2018 reveal that the GVA contribution grew in real terms by 7.6% in two years to £85.6 billion.
Employment in the industry too went up to its highest level for 15 years – up 5.3% in two years to reach 440,000.
Sales overseas have been especially buoyant, rising by a quarter between 2016 and 2018, with massive percentage rises in exports to Asia and Oceania of nearly 300% and 260% in the USA.
The news will be welcome after fears of a serious downturn following the UK’s imminent withdrawal from the European Union. It had been predicted that both jobs and sales would be impacted negatively, while non-European demand might be slow to grow.
However, the EU continues to be the dominant importer of British food and accounts for nearly £14 billion of the UK’s £23 billion in exports. Of the individual member states, the Republic of Ireland is the largest market and worth £4.2 billion in exports – or more than a fifth of all Britain’s international food exports.
Other key European markets are The Netherlands, France and Germany.
The UK also suffers from a substantial trade deficit, with imports of $6 billion worth double the country’s food and drink exports. It is bnow the world’s fouth largest food and second largest drinks importer.
Make UK chief economist Seamus Nevin stated:
“Despite the economic and political uncertainty the sector seems to be shielded from the difficulties experienced elsewhere and is driving hard for growth in the UK and overseas. It is now a key contributor not just to manufacturing but a significant employer in many regions of the UK.”
Santander head of food and drink Andrew Williams commented that the data underlined the importance of the sector to the UK economy. He said his company was committed to helping manufacturers improve productivity and establish new trade partners globally.