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3.1 Origins of food consumed in the UK 2019
|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 20192, the UK supplied just over half (55%) of the food consumed in the UK. The leading foreign supplier of food consumed in the UK were countries from the EU (26%). 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 2019 prices) were fruit & vegetables, meat and beverages (see 3.4).
1 UK Food Security Assessment, January 2010 (Defra).
2 2019 figures are provisional.
3.2 UK Food production to supply ratio 1988 to 2019
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 2019 was 64% for all food and 77% for indigenous type food. This compares with 61% and 75% respectively in 2018 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 rose by 1% between 2018 and 20194.
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 21% rise in 2019 compared to 2018 reflecting the combination of increased area and higher yields.
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 meat resumed an upward trend to a record level in 2018 before falling by 2% in 2019.
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 with 2019 being the highest level for 20 years but levels still remain lower than those in the 1990’s.
3 Gross output less transactions within the industry.
4 2019 figures are provisional.
3.4 UK trade in different food groups, 2019
|2019||exports £billion||imports £billion|
|Fruit and veg||1.3||11.5|
|Dairy & eggs||2.0||3.3|
|Coffee, tea, cocoa etc.||1.5||3.8|
In 20195 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 £7.9 bn in 2019, up by 3% on 2018.
Cereals is the second largest export group with a value of £2.4 bn, followed by the meat, fish, dairy and eggs categories at around £2.0 bn each (excluding the miscellaneous category).
‘Fruit and vegetables’ has the largest trade deficit. In 2019 imports were £11.5 bn while exports were worth £1.3 bn, giving a trade gap of £10.2 bn.
The second largest groups in terms of imports in 2019 were meat and beverages with imports of £6.6 and £6.0 bn respectively.
5 2019 figures are provisional.
3.5 Trend in exports of food, feed and drink
The total value of food and drink exports rose to £23.6 billion in 20196, £0.6 billion more than the previous peak of £23 billion in 2018. Cereals and cereal preparations had the greatest value increase at £266 million (12%). Exports of fish and fish preparations increased by £212 million (12%) and exports of meat and meat preparations increased by £183 million (10%). Feeding stuff for animals had the greatest reduction in value by £79 million (7%), and there were reductions in four other groups - Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices, Sugars and sugar preparations and honey, Oilseeds,oils and fats,Vegetables and fruit.
The trade deficit in food, feed and drink fell in 2019 to £24.3 billion, down from £24.8 billion in 2018.
6 2019 figures are provisional.
3.6 World agricultural commodity prices to December 2019
Rice prices peaked 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. Prices recovered up to October 2016 but have fallen since then as a result of a glut in supply. Palm oil prices fell steadily from the peak in 2011 partly due to competition from Soybeans and Sunflower oil until rallying in 2016. After falling steadily through 2017 and 2018 prices rose sharply at the end of 2019. Wheat prices fell steadily from 2012 and then rallied in 2017 as global supplies dipped.
Source: UNCTAD, data from UNCTADSTAT at https://unctadstat.unctad.org/EN/
3.7 World grains stocks to consumption ratio to 2019-20
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 and 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, increasing by 4% since crop year 2014-15.
International Grains Council (IGC), http://www.igc.int/en/markets/marketinfo-sd.aspx
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, build a custom query at https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/app/index.html#/app/advQuery.
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.
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