Food exports down by three-quarters in first month of post-Brexit trade

26 March 2021

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has produced what it is calling a Food and Drink Trade snapshot based on data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for January 2021.

In this first month in which the UK has traded outside the EU’s single market, food and drink exports to the Union feel from £1 billion in January 2020 to £256.4 million a year later.

This fall of 75.5% contrasts with an 11.1% decline in exports to the rest of the world.

The snapshot, which can be found at, shows that, in January 2020, Ireland was the UK’s biggest market, representing around 18% of total food and drink exported.

However, in January 2021 this figure fell to only 5%. Exports to all EU Member States were down with Ireland, Germany and Italy each showing a decline of more than 80%.

FDF Head of International Trade, Dominic Goudie, said: “Businesses face significant challenges when trading with the EU and small businesses in particular have been shut out because groupage distribution is not working. In the absence of solutions, EU exporters will face much the same difficulties when the UK’s full border operating model enters into force in 2022.”

It is clear, he continued, that the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) will not be amended and businesses face unavoidable changes to the terms of trade.

Mr Goudie has called for the EU-UK Partnership Council, and its Trade Specialised Committees, to be convened as a matter of urgency to put in place solutions that deliver the TCA’s aim of enhancing the ability of small businesses to benefit from trade.