Overall, exports were down more than a fifth in February 2021, driven by a fall in sales to the EU of 40.9% compared to February 2020, a drop of nearly £400m ($555m). In the first two months of 2021, exports to the EU are down more than £1.1bn ($1.53bn).
Exports to most EU Member States fell significantly, with Ireland down more than 70% and Germany, Spain and Italy by around 50%.
The FDF, which represents more than 800 food and drink companies from global brands to small businesses, said the dairy and meat sectors were worst impacted, with sales of milk and cream to the EU down 96.4%, and cheese down by 64.6% when compared to February of the previous year.
Food and drink imports were down more than 10% in February 2021, driven by a drop of 17% from the EU compared to February 2020 worth more than £425m ($590m). At the same time, imports from the rest of the world increased by nearly 6%.
Imports of cheese in February were down almost 21% compared to February 2020.
In spite of the impact created by the pandemic, Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at FDF, said, “While UK food and drink exports to the EU have improved from a 76% fall in January, they are still down nearly 41% in February 2021. Exports to our biggest market, Ireland, have also dropped more than two thirds. UK businesses continue to struggle with inconsistent and incorrect demands at EU borders, and small businesses have been hardest hit due to the collapse of groupage distribution into the EU.
“New EU import requirements for composite products entered into force this week, adding even greater complexity, cost and uncertainty for UK exporters. It is essential that the EU-UK Partnership Council and its Trade Specialised Committees are convened to urgently address problems with the implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure small businesses are not shut out of trade by this trade deal.”