Press release

Government helps UK food and drink companies win £1 billion of business overseas

From Switzerland to Singapore, the UK government has supported a record number of businesses to export British produce overseas.

British cheese

The UK government has supported a record 4,000 food and drink businesses to export almost £1 billion of their top-quality British produce to shops and restaurants around the world in the past two years, Farming Minister George Eustice said today as he attended the world’s largest food and drink fair, Anuga, in Cologne.

In 2013, the government announced a new ambition to directly help 1,000 UK food and drink businesses sell their produce abroad by October 2015, generating business wins of £500 million. Two years later it has smashed those targets, with four times that number of companies using free advice and support from UKTI to win £985 million of business around the world—from selling cheddar cheese to China to exporting popcorn to the USA.

This weekend, 183 top UK food and drink companies will aim to attract even more export business as they showcase their produce to 155,000 buyers from around the globe.

British dairy producers will be leading the pack with twelve companies exhibiting fine cheeses, yoghurts, cream and milk— as new figures show exports of milk and cream from the UK to Anuga’s host nation Germany are up 94 per cent, and to Italy a huge 302 per cent.

Visiting British companies exhibiting at Anuga, Farming Minister George Eustice said:

This Government is backing Britain’s world-class food and farming industry, helping a record 4,000 British businesses to put their top-quality produce on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus around the world.

The companies exhibiting at Anuga today are flying the flag for British produce. Their excellent standards of safety and welfare are world class, and the huge variety of produce they have on offer is second to none.

I’d like to see even more of our food and drink companies starting to export their great British produce, using the support and advice the Government can offer and making the most of the opportunities created as we negotiate to open new markets.

Dairy exports outside the EU have also risen, with cheese to the US worth £22 million in the first six months of 2015, up 20% in value on the same period last year.

Producers are building on the excellent reputation of British food overseas by using British branding such as union flags and iconic British scenes into the design of their packaging, so shoppers around the world can be confident they are buying a British product.

Wyke Farms, one of the UK’s biggest cheese manufacturers which exports its award-winning cheddar to 160 countries, has recently launched a new British flag-themed brand specifically targeted at export customers. Exhibiting at Anuga, Rich Clothier, Managing Director of Wyke Farms, said:

In October we will export over 300 tonnes of award winning Wyke Farms cheddar to over 160 countries worldwide. Our new bespoke global ‘British brand’ for our export range allows us to communicate all of our credentials such as quality, provenance and green energy, all of which are so important to the global market. We have had good support along the way from the UKTI and the CBI who have helped us by using their network of contacts, giving us advice in these new and emerging regions.

Last year the UK exported to 228 countries and territories around the world and exports of UK food and drink have doubled in the last decade, worth nearly £19 billion in 2014. The UK government has negotiated to open almost three new global markets a week since 2010—including beef to Thailand, processed pork to India and poultry meat to Angola this year.

Food and drink remains our biggest manufacturing sector, greater than cars and aerospace combined—from farm to fork, the UK food chain contributes £103bn to our economy and employs one in eight people.

Further Information

  • Launched in 2013 by Defra and UKTI, the UK Food and Drink International Action Plan set out specific support for UK companies looking to export, with an aim to bring £500m of value to the UK economy through Government assisting up to 1,000 UK food and drink companies with their international growth up until October 2015. From October 2013 to October 2015, UKTI has assisted over 4,000 UK food and drink companies resulting in £985m of export business won.

  • Food and drink companies looking to find out more about exporting abroad can visit UKTI’s website at or contact UKTI on 020 7215 5000. You can also apply online to talk to a UKTI export adviser.

Case studies

Hawkshead Relish

Cumbria’s Hawkshead Relish Company is exporting globally thanks to help from UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI’s) range of export services. In the 12 months to May 2015, the company sold over £72,000 of relishes, pickles and preserves to customers outside the UK, as a direct result of working with UKTI. This increased business has led to six new jobs at the company.

Keen to export, but with limited exposure to the practicalities, Hawkshead Relish turned to UKTI for support accessing markets in Europe. An International Trade Adviser (ITA) met the company’s founders to discuss their plans and explain how UKTI could help. On his advice, they began with Passport to Export, the UKTI programme to help businesses prepare for international markets.

Maria Whitehead, co-founder, Hawkshead Relish Company said:

Passport to Export was a really good introduction to export, covering a wide spectrum of information. The private meetings with our ITA then helped us to drill down to what was important for us to know country by country. There’s nowhere else you can get such impartial and clear advice.

Read more about how UKTI has supported Hawkshead Relish Company to export.

Joe and Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn

Joe and Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn began when Joseph Sopher brought back gourmet popcorn from the USA as gifts for relatives. In 2010 he began experimenting with an array of 30 classic British flavours, and a secret cooking process involving air-popping the corn. This resulted in a winning formula for popcorn connoisseurs and turned a conventional snack into a premium brand.

Traditional British flavours such as ‘Strawberries and Cream’, ‘Cheddar Cheese’ and ‘Gin and Tonic’ have huge consumer appeal in international markets. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) worked with the company to help it export to 15 overseas markets—helping it to develop an export plan for its premium product, build a presence at international tradeshows and make the necessary contacts to establish distributors and meet buyers.

Adam Sopher, co-founder of Joe and Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn said:

UKTI has been extremely helpful, it has provided us with great opportunities to network and learn from each other. It’s a painless investment in your business.

The company has quadrupled in size since it started to export, growing from a team of 8 to 38 employees.

The brand aims to continue expanding into new countries as well as developing in the 15 markets where they already have an existing presence.

Read more about how UKTI has supported Joe and Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn to export.

Published 12 October 2015