Lamb rise makes it UK's third biggest food export

Exports of food have hit record levels, with major increases for lamb and beef, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has announced.

Figures released by the FDF have shown that food and drink exports grew in value by 4.4% to 9.65bn in 2009, a fifth consecutive year of growth,

Melanie Leech, FDF director, said: This is the fifth consecutive year of record exports by the food and drink industry demonstrating the significant economic value of our sector.

"This strong performance is testimony to the persistence and entrepreneurial spirit of British manufacturers as well as a reflection of the quality of what they produce. I am proud of the fact our sector has continued to report significant overseas success at a time when UK exports as a whole have taken a significant hit.

Beef was the seventh top food export product in 2009, worth 257.5m, which was a percentage change of 20.8% compared to 2008. Meanwhile poultry exports were worth 229.3m in 2009, which is a change of 5.5%.

Lamb jumped 18.6% to 311.9m, making it the third biggest export product after breakfast cereals and chocolate.

The Republic of Ireland is the biggest importer of UK food and non-alcoholic drink products with France and the Netherlands following behind.

The EU remains the main destination for UK food and drink exports, accounting for 79.2% of overseas sales, but significant growth has been recorded outside Europe with sales to the Oceania region up by 15.9% and exports to North America jumping by 14.8%.

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