UK must milk dairy export potential

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United kingdom, Milk, International trade, Dairy uk

UK dairy firms are being urged to capitalise on a resurgence in the
country's food and drink exports, through a new project with the
Food From Britain organisation.

Industry association Dairy UK said it would organise several events to coincide with the Food From Britain Export Awards this week, and was in discussions with the group over a new export programme designed specifically to help dairy firms.

The move may help British dairy firms of all sizes to penetrate new markets and increase their presence in strongly emerging markets.

"Exploiting new markets is essential to aid profits in partnership with farmers, particularly at times of market pressure as now,"​ said Jim Begg, Dairy UK director general, adding firms must "fish where the fish are".

Begg and others urged UK dairy firms to adopt a more "international mindset"​ at an industry conference earlier this autumn.

The new push for foreign markets comes in a year when food and drink exports from Britain are predicted to top £10bn for the first time since 1996.

Beverages will account for a large part of that, but cheese exports rose five per cent to £109m for first six months of the year, according to Food From Britain (FFB), which was set up to help UK businesses expand on the international stage.

Latin America and Eastern Europe showed the biggest rise in demand for British products, although the top three markets remained Ireland, France and the US.

David McNair, FFB chief executive, said the time was right for dairy firms to make a move.

"Our experience is that our dairy competitors overseas are reacting positively to the rapidly changing market dynamics for dairy products, and there is a real need for British dairy companies to be part of this process."

Initial efforts are likely to focus on added value exports, something which could help to reduce the UK's mounting trade deficit in dairy.

That deficit jumped 20 per cent in 2005 to £893m, according to the Milk Development Council, which warned that Britain was importing too many added value brands in exchange for lower value, commodity exports.

Related topics: Markets, Fresh Milk

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