Members may have seen a number of articles in the papers and trade press covering the drop in exports of food and drink to the UK since EU exit. The stories (correctly) highlight the impact of new bureaucracy and customs issues affecting trade with Europe and often quote figures indicating a significant fall in exports for a variety of food sectors.
Official January to February 2021 trade figures for UK flour exports to EU countries suggested volume was down over 60% on the same period in 2020, which seemed an exceptional drop. The secretariat followed up with member companies to try and understand if this was being observed, and the comments and figures we received suggested a different story.
The feedback from members suggested that exports to the Republic of Ireland were down by approximately 20%, whilst exports to the rest of the EU were down by around 70%. As exports to RoI account for the majority of UK flour exports, the overall picture indicated a 30% drop on the same period in 2020 – significant, but well below the drop indicated by official trade figures. It is to be hoped that some recovery of GB to EU exports may emerge in the coming months as businesses become more accustomed to the new paperwork.
We will continue to monitor the trade figures closely and may return to you with new questions, when appropriate, to maintain an informed view of the situation.