UK food and drink exports to Ireland collapsed in January this year as a result of the extra red tape from Brexit and weaker demand due to COVID-19.
New data published by the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, an industry body for food companies, shows UK food and drink exports to Ireland plummeted 85% year on year to just over £45m (€53m).
Ireland is the largest export market for UK food, normally accounting for almost 20% of total exports.
According to the Food and Drink Federation, Ireland accounted for just 5% of the UK’s food exports in January.
The collapse in UK food exports was not limited to just Ireland.
The figures published by the Food and Drink Federation show a widespread slump in UK food exports to all EU member states.
UK food exports to France were down almost 70% year on year to just over £53m (€62m), while exports to Germany and the Netherlands were down 80% and 65% respectively.
The figures published by the Food and Drink Federation show that UK exports of cheese, beef, salmon, pork and animal feed were among the hardest hit categories.
UK beef exports plunged 92% year on year to just £3.4m (€4m) in January, while UK lamb exports were down 45% to £18m (€21m).
UK pork exports fell 87% in January to just £3.5m (€4m), while whiskey exports were down 63% on last year to £39m (€45m).
UK cheese exports were down 85% year on year to just under £7m (€8m), while chocolate exports were down almost 70% to just £13m (€15m).
The collapse in UK food exports into Ireland and other EU countries in the early weeks of 2021 comes as no surprise given the volume of food stockpiling prior to Brexit and the added complexity of veterinary certs and SPS documents for food since January 2021.
On top of all this, COVID-19 has dented demand from food service customers for UK produce.
The Food and Drink Federation blamed the collapse in exports on the new non-tariff barriers such as SPS certificates, which it said had shut out many SME food businesses from export markets.