© Crown copyright 2019
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/food-statistics-pocketbook/food-statistics-in-your-pocket-global-and-uk-supply
Please answer 4 short questions (opens in Google Forms) to help us make the pocketbook better for you.
3.1 Origins of food consumed in the UK 2018
|Region||Percentage supplied to the UK|
|Rest of Europe||2%|
a UK origin consists of UK domestic production minus UK exports
Sourcing food from a diverse range of stable regions, in addition to domestically, enhances food security1.
Based on the farm-gate value of unprocessed food in 20182, the UK supplied just over half (53%) of the food consumed in the UK. The leading foreign supplier of food consumed in the UK were countries from the EU (28%). Africa, Asia, North and South America each provided a 4% share of the food consumed in the UK.
The three largest value imported commodity groups (at 2018 prices) were fruit & vegetables, meat and beverages (see 3.4).
1 UK Food Security Assessment, January 2010 (Defra).
2 2018 figures are provisional.
3.2 UK Food production to supply ratio 1988 to 2018
Food Production to Supply Ratio is calculated as the farm-gate value of raw food production (including for export) divided by the value of raw food for human consumption. It provides a broad indicator of the ability of UK agriculture to meet consumer demand.
A high production to supply ratio fails to insulate a country against many possible disruptions to its supply chain. The ratio in 2018 was 61% for all food and 75% for indigenous type food. This compares with 60% and 75% respectively in 2017 showing very little change between the years.
3.3 Trends in UK food production and final output at market prices
Final output3 of UK agriculture is a proxy for UK food production. The volume of all outputs fell by 1% between 2017 and 20184.
Total UK cereal production has fluctuated, with significant dips in 2001, 2007, 2012 and 2013, linked to adverse weather conditions in those years. There was a 6% fall in 2018 compared to 2017 reflecting the hot dry summer.
Since 1990 there have been large increases in production levels of poultry meat, part of a longer term upward trend since the late 1970’s. Although production dipped during the second half of the 2000’s it increased significantly in 2010 and has remained high. Following a slight fall in 2014, total production of poultry has resumed an upward trend and increased by 5% to a record level in 2018.
Red meat production showed a downward trend through much of the 1990’s, driven by a combination of factors including the beef export ban. Since 2005 there has been a slight upward movement but levels still remain lower than those in the 1990’s.
3 Gross output less transactions within the industry.
4 2018 figures are provisional.
3.4 UK trade in different food groups, 2018
|2018||exports £billion||imports £billion|
|Fruit and veg||1.3||11.1|
|Dairy & eggs||1.9||3.4|
|Coffee, tea, cocoa etc.||1.5||3.7|
In 20185 the value of imports was greater than the value of exports in each of the broad categories of food, feed and drink except ‘Beverages’ which had a trade surplus of £1.81 bn, largely due to exports of Scotch Whisky.
Beverages are the largest export category by far with an export value of £7.6 bn in 2018, up by 3% on 2017.
Cereals is the second largest export group with a value of £2.1 bn, followed by the meat and dairy and eggs categories at around £1.9 bn each (excluding the miscellaneous category).
‘Fruit and vegetables’ has the largest trade deficit. In 2018 imports were £11.1 bn while exports were worth £1.3 bn, giving a trade gap of £9.8 bn.
The second largest groups in terms of imports in 2018 were meat and beverages with imports of £6.8 and £5.8 bn respectively.
5 2018 figures are provisional.
3.5 Trend in exports of food, feed and drink
The total value of food and drink exports fell to £22 billion in 20186, £0.3 billion less than the previous peak of £22.3 billion in 2017. Beverages had the greatest value increase at £228 million (3%). Exports of dairy products and birds eggs increased by £112 million (6%) and exports of miscellaneous edible products increased by £71 million (3%). Feeding stuff for animals had the greatest reduction in value by £199 million (14%), and there were reductions for fish and fish preparations, and cereals and cereal preparations.
The trade deficit in food, feed and drink fell in 2018 to £24.2 billion, down from £24.6 billion in 2017.
6 2018 figures are provisional.
3.6 World agricultural commodity prices to March 2019
Rice prices rose sharply in April 2008 to double what they had been in March. This was due to a shortage, a weak US dollar and rising production costs.
Beef prices peaked in September 2014, having risen 50% over the previous year due to a shortage of cattle.
In the 11 years of data rice has shown the biggest variation of prices with the lowest price in 2006 only being 33% of the highest price in 2008. Beef has shown the smallest variation in prices with the lowest price in 2009 being 44% of the highest price in 2014.
Sugar prices peaked in 2011 then fell steeply until August 2015 due to oversupply and fluctuations in Brazilian and US currency, but have fallen since then to their lowest since the middle of 2007, the result of a glut in supply. Palm oil prices fell steadily from 2011 partly due to competition from Soybeans and Sunflower oil until rallying in 2016, and then falling again. Wheat prices also fell steadily from 2012 and then rallied in 2017 as global supplies dipped.
3.7 World grains stocks to consumption ratio to 2018-19
Stocks to consumption ratios7 are an indicator of global resilience to food shortages and price stability. With low stocks, markets become sensitive to further supply shortfalls, which magnifies the price response.
Wheat and Coarse Grain stocks had been on a rising trend in recent years, starting with the 2012-13 crop year, but Coarse grain stocks have been falling since 2016-178.
Rice stocks have been on an upward trend since the 2006/07 harvest.
Rice consumption (the denominator) is also on a gradually rising trend, leaving the indicator largely unchanged since crop year 2014-15.
Source: International Grains Council (IGC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
7 From August 2013, Production, Supply and Distribution (PSD) numbers for “European Union” reflect the addition of Croatia to the former EU-27. Croatia data no longer exists in the PSD after 1998/99; therefore, comparisons to data, including World Totals, will differ from those published prior to July 2013.
8 USDA projections.
3.8 Retailer warehouse stock levels - 5 year change
|Increased by 10% or more||2||12|
|Increased by between 5-10%||3||3|
|Increased by up to 5%||25||7|
|Stayed the same||40||26|
|Fallen by up to 5%||17||16|
|Fallen by between 5-10%||3||13|
|Fallen by 10% or more||10||23|
In the 5 years to 2015, 52% of suppliers reduced their distribution centre stock levels while only 22% increased their stock. 26% of suppliers had no change in stock levels.
In the same period, 40% of retailers had no change in stock levels, while 30% of suppliers increased stock levels and the same proportion saw a decrease.
The majority of retail supply chains have between one and four weeks of stock, with suppliers tending to hold higher levels of stock than retailers. For fresh produce, stock levels can sometimes be only 24 hours or less. As retail supply chains become more responsive, lead times7 are reducing and order frequencies are increasing.
Retailers are increasingly moving products into their stockless networks, managing products from across their ranges in the same way as the fresh and produce categories.
The impact of the current economic climate on consumer spending has helped drive this change as retailers look at ways of funding price cuts; supply chain operating costs and working capital tied up in inventory has provided such an opportunity.
Source: IGD Research, 2015.
7 The time between an order being placed and delivery.
Enquiries to: email@example.com
Lead statistician: David Lee
Tel: 0208 026 3006
You can also contact us via Twitter: @DefraStats
Food Statistics team
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Foss House, Kings Pool
1-2 Peasholme Green
York YO1 7PX