The annual import and export figures for 2021 were published in early March and provide an opportunity to reflect on the impact of Brexit on the trade of flour and flour-based products, as well as consider longer-term trends.
The figures cover trade of flour, mixes and doughs, bread, biscuits and other flour and wheat- based goods.
Although exports of flour and flour-based goods have been in decline for the past 4 years, the drop in 2021 on 2020 was significant, likely due to the impact of Brexit and customs and other requirements associated with the change in regulations.
Exports of flour dropped approximately 20% and those of mixes and doughs dropped by 40%. Whilst imports of bread declined, there is still a negative trade deficit for bread, with the UK importing more than it exports.
There is also a negative trade deficit for mixes and doughs, although trade in flour remains positive, with the UK exporting 80kt more flour than it imported in 2021.
Somewhat reassuringly, trade with the Republic of Ireland remains strong, with the decrease in exports primarily driven by loss of trade to other EU27 countries.