Press release

Britain’s Christmas gifts to families worldwide

The biggest grossing products for the UK economy over the Christmas period are expected to be wine, cheese and toys.

UK exporters look set to pull off another Christmas cracker with international sales of Brussels sprouts, geese and Christmas lights expected to increase by as much as 2,000% in the run up to the big day.

The biggest grossing products for the UK economy over the Christmas period are expected to be wine, cheese and toys. Sales figures for last year (2012) were £116 million for wine, £106 million for cheese and £102 million for toys.

British meat will also be in high demand with families around the world tucking into produce farmed in the UK. In quarter 4 last year (2012) Germany was the biggest importer of our geese, Ireland gobbled up the most British turkey and Denmark went the most quackers for our duck. UK companies have also branched out into exporting Christmas trees, with top recipients including Ireland, Russia and Mauritius.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy, assisted 29,230 customers to export last year, of whom 20% were new exporters. UKTI also helped businesses generate £49.6 billion in additional sales through exporting.

Crispin Simon, UKTI Chief Executive, said:

The ‘Made in Britain’ brand is sought after across the world and this year, like last, Santa’s sleigh will be stuffed with presents and festive treats made and designed by UK businesses.

In 2014 we want to make sure that increasing numbers of UK firms are not just trading abroad, but thriving there and competing with the best the rest of the world has to offer.

UKTI can provide support and advice to help our businesses excel in markets around the world.

Lye Cross Farm, based in Somerset, is 1 business that has benefitted from the support and expertise of UKTI to export its cheese, which is a popular item at Christmas. The business has been exporting West Country farm house cheddar, organic cheese and bespoke cheese since 1998.

Lye Cross is 1 of the companies that features in UKTI’s Exporting is Great campaign which is inspiring small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to export and directs them to UKTI’s expert support services.

Tim Harrap, Head of Collaboration at Lye Cross Farm, said:

We are really committed to exporting as there is so much opportunity across the world for quality products.

We have seen increasing sales in the run up to Christmas this year, with record months in October and November.

UKTI has been invaluable in providing us with the research tools to help us know where to target and key contacts at embassies across the world.

The New Year period will also see a rise for UK businesses that sell fitness products as people try to sweat off their festive flab.

Exporters of sports shoes saw a 39% increase after quarter 4 last year, from £14,790,593 to £20,590,202.

UKTI’s expert international trade advisers can help new exporters with practical advice and support to seek out new international customers.

Notes to editors:

1.The case study mentioned is available for interview upon request.

2.Infographics demonstrating the top 5 exports by sales figures and percentage increases are available, as well as images of the owners of Lye Cross Farm.

3.Full breakdown of the top 10 exports by percentage increase in 2012. The number denotes the items ranking by percentage increase.

Christmas item Quarter 3 (July-September 2012) Quarter 4 (October-December 2012) Percentage change Largest export market
Brussels sprouts £16,335 £380,104 2,227% (1) Ireland
Video games consoles/machines £38,201,512 £77,916,375 104% (9) Ireland
Electric Christmas lights £284,368 £1,529,139 438% (3) Ireland
Ducks £2,112,643 £5,851,508 177% (8) Denmark
Geese £7,281 £93,417 1183% (2) Germany
Chestnuts £9,897 £39,305 297% (4) Ireland
Christmas articles (including decorations) £2,890,177 £8,720,185 202% (6) Ireland
Calendars £1,333,952 £3,875,135 191% (7) Ireland
Turkeys £34,0355 £1,305,045 283% (5) Ireland
Toys £78,868,661 £102,939,334 N/A (10) Ireland

4.Full breakdown of the top ten exports by sales figures in quarter 4 of 2012.

Christmas item Quarter 4 (October-December 2012) Largest export market
Wine £116,791,673 Hong Kong
Cheese £106,633,519 Ireland
Toys £102,939,334 Ireland
Video games consoles/machines £77,91,6375 Ireland
Candles £19,551,093 Ireland
Women’s lingerie £18,447,889 Ireland
Christmas/greetings cards £16,538,081 Ireland
Christmas articles (including decorations) £8,720,185 Ireland
Champagne £5,951,989 Hong Kong
Duck £5,851,508 Denmark

5.Exports of UK sports shoes (excluding snow shoes, ski footwear, iceskates and rollerblades) were £14,790,593 in quarter 4 of 2012 and £20,590,202 for quarter 1 (January - March) of 2013. The biggest export market was Ireland, closely followed by Belgium and Germany.

6.In November this year (2013) the government launched a new campaign called Exporting is GREAT to encourage small businesses (SMEs) to export and direct them specifically to UKTI’s support services. A key element in the BIS ‘Business is Great’ campaign, this exporting focused initiative will reach almost 3 million individuals and around 700,000 businesses with more than 4 employees in its first 5 months, giving them a very specific call to action: to contact UKTI to help and advise about exporting. It is intended to generate over 3,000 appointments with UKTI international trade advisers, giving small businesses direct access to expert advice, support and finance to help them export. The campaign will cost £2.4 million and drive £1.2 billion in incremental export revenue from the leads it generates. The campaign creative features 2 SMEs who have grown their business internationally as a result of UKTI advice. Their case studies are available from the UKTI press office. For more information, SMEs should go to or call 0800 093 2094.

7.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants

8.UK Trade and Investment:

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, or visit the online newsroom at

9.UK Export Finance (UKEF) is the UK’s Export credit agency. UKEF supports exporters and investors by providing credit insurance policies, political risk insurance on overseas investments and guarantees on bank loans. UK Export Finance is the operating name of the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD).

Published 22 December 2013