Government publishes post-Brexit export plans

The government has sought to calm fears over UK trade following Brexit by publishing a template to boost exports of British booze globally.

Whisky_exportThe UK Food and Drink International Plan 2016-20 includes details of a new Great British Food Unit which will work across Defra and the Department of Department for International Trade to boost export and investment on home-grown food and drinks. It intends to support this through trade and “cultural activity” to promote UK food and drink, and open new and build existing markets.

The UK needs to make the most of the export opportunities as the global appetite for UK food and drink grows, the report pointed out, and it promised to forge “the strongest economic links with our European neighbours as well as our close friends in North America, the Commonwealth and other partners around the world”.

“ Leaving the EU will allow us to shape our own international trade and investment opportunities, drive even greater openness with international partners (in Europe and beyond) and put the UK firmly at the forefront of global trade and investment,”Defra head Andrea Leadsom wrote.

“We will continue to raise the profile of our world class food industry and build our nation as a great food nation.”

The report also identified key export markets for British drinks being targeted by the UK, including beer and cider sales to Australia and New Zealand, Mexico and Latin America and France, white spirits, wine, beer and cider to Gemany, the USA and Canada which is already seeing increasing demand for British booze, and China, the world’s second largest beer market.

It has launched a new marketing campaign, ‘The Food is GREAT Campaign’, to focus not only on products, but also the “rich diversity of heritage and contemporary style which makes our food and drink so exciting”.

“Visiting a British pub is listed as the fourth most important activity for visitors to do when they come to the UK and distilleries in Scotland attract some 1.5 million visitors a year, many of whom are from overseas,” it pointed out. “We will be working to develop a programme of Food is GREAT events and communications.”

The report noted the work being undertaken by trade bodies including the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) to build on previous export success to identify target markets and break own barriers.

For example the SWA and Scotland Food and Drink have developed an Export Collaboration Charter to use the lessons learned the Scotch Whisky industry has learnt to help others develop markets around the world, agreeing ten commitments to encourage the sharing of best practice, knowledge and networks across the Scottish food and drink sector,

“Many countries are seeking to build a global food supply chain, and the areas in demand match areas of UK strength,” it pointed out. “Exports currently deliver only 19% of turnover of the food and drink manufacturing industry, so there is significant opportunity for growth

Rosemary Gallagher, head of communications at the SWA welcomed the plan, which it had helped to develop. “Scotch Whisky exports are worth around £4 billion annually – about a quarter of total UK food and drink exports. It’s good to see the government’s commitment to continue to drive up exports from this sector.”

This was echoed by the chief executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, who commented that in the past the UK had been reluctant to shout about its “excellent” drink and food offer but the WSTA was extremely proud of working with the government to highlight the quality of British wines and spirits. “There is a massive appetite for English wine and British spirits overseas and it is vital we look at ways of targeting new markets which will allow industry to fulfil its export ambitions. A good example of this is the English wine industry’s aims to double production and see a ten-fold increase in exports by 2020. We hope that this report is supported by the UK’s Ambassadors and High Commissioners who can help spread the word by serving wine and spirits made in the UK at all their events.”

Barry Lewis, chief executive of the UK Vine Association welcomed the move as a “very positive initiative”.

“We are ready to step up to the mark as Britains fastest growing agricultural sector. In a post Brexit world opportunities to access new markets and fly the flag for our high quality wines must be embraced. We will continue to work hard with our colleagues in Westminster and Defra to maximise this opportunity,” he said.

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