LONDON, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Food and drink exports from Britain saw a record growth in first half of 2017, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said Friday.
Whisky, salmon and beer were the three top exported products in trade with Ireland, France and the U.S., the top three destinations for British products, according to the FDF.
China was among the three export markets to record the greatest percentage growth in exports, notching up British exports worth 354 million U.S. dollars between January and June, said the federation.
Exports grew to 13.2 billion U.S. dollars in the half year, up 8.5 percent on the same period in 2016, representing the largest first-half exports value on record, said the FDF.
The report said exports to the other 27 member states of the European Union (EU) grew at a faster rate than to non-EU markets, increasing the share of sales to the EU to 61.2 percent
Sales of branded food and non-alcoholic drink continued to lead the way with exports up 11.3 percent compared to 2016.
Contrary to recent export trends, the FDF said stronger growth was reported to EU countries than to countries outside the regional bloc.
Positive growth was reported in all top 20 markets, apart from Spain and Japan. Spain saw a 17.6 percent decrease compared with 2016 due to a drop in commodity exports, such as wheat and barley, while Japan was marginally down by 2 percent.
The three export markets that saw the greatest percentage growth in value were South Korea (+77 percent), China (+35 percent), and Belgium (+39 percent).
The U.S. was Britain's top non-EU market for exports of branded food and drink, reaching 118 million U.S. dollars in the first half of this year, with top British branded goods sold including food preparations, bread, pastry, cakes, puddings and sweet biscuits.
A spokesman for the FDF said, "While the fall in the price of the pound had helped to boost UK export competitiveness, this currency weakness has also led to an increase in the cost of many essential imported ingredients and raw materials."
"This has resulted in the UK's food and drink trade deficit increasing by 16 percent to 16 billion U.S. dollars during the review period," he said.
A recent FDF commissioned study has identified China, India and the United Arab Emirates as the top three target markets that Britain's food and drink companies would like to target.
Ian Wright, the FDF's director general, said, "We want to work with the government to take advantage of increased demand for UK products overseas and the opportunities that leaving the EU is expected to create."
British Food Minister George Eustice said, "We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time."