North East food and drink companies raise a glass to export boom  

  • Annual North East food and drink exports hit more than £250 million
  • Local gin distilleries tapping into global demand, with drink exports up by 34%
  • Growing taste for North East food and drink in India, with 53% boost in exports

Sales of North East food and drink overseas reached more than £252 million in the year to March 2019, the latest HMRC figures reveal.

Beverages took the top spot for sector exports from the region, totalling £22 million, a 34% rise on the year before.

The figures also show an increase in the North East’s trade with India, with a 53% rise in exports of local produce to the country in the last year.  

Moorland Spirit Co, a Northumberland-based gin distiller, is one local business tapping into increasing global demand for North East food and drink.  

The company started exporting two years ago and is already selling its flagship gin, Hepple Gin, to five overseas markets including Germany, India and the US. Exports currently make up 31% of the company’s annual turnover. 

Many other businesses throughout the North East have been benefitting from the overseas thirst for UK produce with support from the Food is GREAT campaign. A cross-departmental initiative between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), the campaign aims to showcase UK food and drink abroad and help companies export.  

Food Minister David Rutley said: “I am delighted that producers in the North East are grasping the opportunity to export to emerging markets like India. Exporters across the region are flying the flag for high-quality British food and drink around the globe.

“North East gin, tea and spices are testament to the UK’s world-renowned reputation for quality, welfare and taste.”

David Coppock, Head of Region, North East at DIT, said: “UK produce is known across the world for its quality and provenance. In the first three months of 2019 the nation’s food and drink exports were valued at £5.7bn. With UK produce in demand across multiple international markets and opportunities particularly prevalent in Japan, the US and China, now’s the time for North East businesses to reap the benefits and put what they’ve got to offer into the spotlight.

“If businesses across the North East are finding success in overseas markets across every continent, there’s no reason why others can’t do the same. We have International Trade Advisers on hand throughout the region to guide producers at every stage of their export journey, and staff on the ground in over 100 countries to eliminate trade hurdles linked to legislation, tax, labelling requirements, and other factors.”

Food and drink brands looking for trade advice should contact 0345 136 0169 or emailnortheast@mobile.trade.gov.uk. They can also visit great.gov.uk, which lists a variety of live export opportunities, alongside general exporting and events information.

PHOTO: from left to right: Moorland Spirit Co’s Nick Strangeway,  Chris Garden, Walter Riddell and Valentine Warner