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UK food and drink export reach £10bn

PUBLISHED: 08:26 14 March 2011 | UPDATED: 08:37 14 March 2011

Melton Constable; The Big Prawn Company has brought in a new MD and has major growth plans; This picture shows L-r Will Rash (MD) / Sean O'Hanlon (Chairman)

Melton Constable; The Big Prawn Company has brought in a new MD and has major growth plans; This picture shows L-r Will Rash (MD) / Sean O'Hanlon (Chairman)

Archant

Food and drink exports from the UK passed the £10bn mark for the first time after growing for the sixth year running in 2010 it will be announced today.

UK food and (non alcoholic) drink export figures showed a 11.4pc increase on 2009 figures, bringing in a total of £10.83bn, and highlighting healthy emerging markets amongst non-EU countries.

Amongst the highest performing sectors were dairy (up 24.6pc to £977.1m), fish and seafood (up 13.8pc to £1,326.9m), meat (+11.7pc to £1458.9m), prepared foods including soups, sauces and ice creams (+10.3pc to £2,591.8m) and cereals and bakery (+8.1pc to £2,079.2m).

Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice will announce the figures today at the International Food Expo (IFE11) held at ExCel London.

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) director general Melanie Leech said: “This is excellent news for British food exporters and for the British economy.

“The food and drink industry must be at the heart of the UK’s strategy for economic growth – and we look forward to working in partnership with the Minister and his colleagues in Defra, BIS and across Government to ensure that we maximise the economic potential of our sector and ensure that we play our part in contributing to global food security.”

One firm highlighted by the FDF for its produce was The Big Prawn Company, based in Melton Constable in north Norfolk.

The firm is the UK’s largest producer of brined and extended life seafood products, specialising in crayfish tails and prawns.

It sees export as a key area of growth, and looking ahead, it is aiming to capitalize on the development of the ready to eat seafood market within Europe where there is increasing demand for more added value products in the ready to eat seafood market.

Will Rash, managing director of The Big Prawn Company’s said: “We are a branded business that is actively looking to expand more into international markets.

“Our investment in MAP technology means that we can offer our most successful products, which would ordinarily have had a short shelf life, to overseas markets and as a result reach new consumers. A great example of this is the growing appetite in France for our traditional prawn cocktail.”

According to the export figures, Ireland remains the principal importer of UK products followed by France, Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Strong performance was also recorded in Hong Kong (+36.3pc), the US (+28.9pc) and the United Arab Emirates (+22.7pc).

There was also growth in new markets outside the current top 20 export destinations. South Africa recorded a +60.7pc increase with a 70.1pc increase in sweet biscuits and 170.6pc increase in unsweetened cakes and baked goods.

China recorded a 28.5pc increase – incorporating a 1633pc increase in dairy – and Israel a 38.9pc overall increase with a 23.3pc rise in sugar confection.

Food and farming minister Jim Paice said: “This is excellent news - showing Britain that our food and drink industries are real areas of strength and growth at the same time as showing the world how good our food is. People now recognise that Britain produces some of the best food you can get anywhere. The export sector is incredibly important to our producers, so the fact that we now export more than £10bn worth of food and drink shows that discerning consumers across the globe value what we produce and that this vital sector is playing its part in Britain’s recovery.”

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