North East exports in Q1 2016 totalled £2.92bn
Rebecca Wayman

Regional food and drink export soars to £249m

The latest HMRC figures show that exports of regional food and drink increased to £249m in the year to June 2018, a rise of 4.9 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

The most popular products from the region overseas were coffee, tea, cocoa and spices (up 3.1 per cent to £79m) and cereals (up 6.9 per cent to £33m).

Sales of animal and vegetable oils saw the largest increase, up 118 per cent to £4.6m.

The statistics also show that more firms in the region are targeting Australia, with 29 per cent more food and drink exported to the country during the period when compared to the previous 12 months.

There was also a marked increase in appetite for North East produce in China, where local exports rose by 27 per cent, and in Canada, where exports rose by 24 per cent.

David Coppock, head of region for North East, at the Department for International Trade, said: “These figures indicate the scale of demand for the North East’s food and drink produce overseas, and this demand is only growing.

“Although exporting can be hugely profitable and help businesses of all sizes boost their resilience, we know that it isn’t without its challenges. This is why we’re on hand to offer our support to anyone interested in starting, or growing, their export sales.

“As well as running regular trade missions to key markets overseas, we can offer guidance on everything from selling online to managing logistics and foreign tax requirements.

“We also offer one-to-one support through our network of International Trade Advisers, who are based on the ground across the North East. I’m encouraging anyone interested in seeing where exporting can take their business to get in touch - the support is out there.”

One business that has seen an uplift in sales first hand is Whitley Bay-based Seaweed & Co, which produces milled British seaweed for industrial food and drink manufacturers as well as a range of seaweed-infused oils.

The company recently secured a £10k order for its ‘Puresea’ brand milled seaweed from a food manufacturer in Spain. The business is now working with International trade advisers from DIT to boost its presence in the Scandinavian and US markets.

Export sales currently account for 15 per cent of the firm’s turnover.

As part of Defra and DIT’s support, a number of North East-based companies have recently been able to visit overseas markets around the world as part of trade missions, including the Food and Hotel China (FHC) show in Shanghai and Gulfood in Dubai.

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