Volume was up by 29.2% compared with January-September 2018, and the value of the exports increased 32.9%.
The figures, compiled by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), are contained in a report by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) which shows that UK food and drink exports increased by 8.3% to £6.2 billion in the third quarter compared to the same period last year.
This was largely driven by export value growth to non-EU countries (+13.1%).
Despite almost half of respondents to FDF’s Q1 and Q2 business confidence surveys indicating UK exports would not fare well in 2019, official Q3 figures are positive, likely driven by Brexit stockpiling.
Exports of the UK’s highest value products have all increased over the year-to-date. Like salmon, whisky, wine, gin and pork have each increased by more than 10% on the same period last year, while salmon, beef and gin have also seen volume growth exceeding 10%.
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Salmon is the standout product in terms of volume growth, largely because Scotland’s biggest salmon producer, Mowi, has harvested a lot more fish than in 2018, when earlier stocking decisions taken to combat biological problems meant its harvest was reduced by more than a third. Mowi expects to harvest 62,000 tonnes (gutted weight) for 2019.
Food and drink exports to China have seen a significant increase since Q3 2018, rising by £64.6m, the largest value increase in over two decades. This has largely been driven by an increase in meat exports, though fish, spirits, beer and dairy produce have also performed strongly.
Fish and seafood exports to China were worth £102.2m in the first nine months of 2019, a rise of 3.6% compared to 2018.