Producers, processors and exporters from across the UK dairy sector held a summit with the Department for International Trade to look at how the industry can build on ambitious plans to double the value of British dairy exports over the next decade.
Last year, dairy exporters sold £1.4 billion worth of goods to markets around the globe, and trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said the government was looking to strike new trade deals and reduce market access barriers to help increase exports.
Badenoch told delegates: “The UK’s reputation is one of high standards, environmental protections and quality goods and I am determined to ensure we remain world leaders in the dairy market. More trade and exports means more jobs, higher wages and a stronger economy.”
One company benefiting from government support is Somerset-based Wyke Cheese, which recently announced it had secured a £30 million general export facility from UK Export Finance and Barclays, to support its continued international expansion. The company currently exports 6,000 tonnes of cheese.
Richard Clothier, Wyke Farms managing director, said the support would enable the company to fulfil its growing export sales in spite of the rising cost of production: “By developing these new regions, we can expand sales of our more premium cheeses which helps improve the milk price paid to South West farmers, benefiting the whole region.”
“With further government investment to boost ongoing market development work and to increase the number of agricultural attaches around the world, the industry can then take advantage of this work to boost our dairy exports and help set a global standard when it comes to sustainable climate-friendly dairy products.”
Michael Oakes, NFU board chair, said the Summit enabled exporters, processors and producers to highlight some of the challenges faced and identify opportunities to help accelerate export growth.
“Over the past few years, we have developed a fantastic reputation worldwide for quality and already export nearly £2bn worth of dairy products to more than 135 countries across Europe, North America and the Middle East.
“If the UK dairy sector wants to be a major player in global trade and find new emerging markets, and add value to the sector, now is the time to drive our exports and capitalise on the tremendous global support that already exists for great British dairy products.”
Katherine Jack, senior dairy analyst at AHDB, said producers had mixed fortunes in the 8 months to the end of August, with £1.2 billion exported in this period.
Jack said cheese exports had risen by 22% with milk and cream up 9% and whey products rising by 10% while yoghurt and butter milk had fallen by more than 20%, with powders and concentrates also 14% lower.