THE ongoing “price of Brexit” has been revealed in newly published figures which show the value of British exports to the bloc has fallen by billions since the UK left.

The figures, published on Thursday by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), show that in the nine months to September of this year food and drink exports fell by 15.9% compared to pre-Covid levels in 2019.

The FDF said this represents a loss of around £2.7 billion.

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Furthermore, total exports of food and drink were also down 4.1% compared to the same period in 2020.

In the third quarter of the year alone, exports were down 13.5% compared to 2019.

The FDF report says this fall was “largely driven by a drop in sales to the EU”. The data shows exports to the bloc fell by 13.9% compared to 2020 and 23.7% compared to 2019 - a loss of £2.4bn.

The National: Graphics source: FDF trade snapshot, Q3 2021Graphics source: FDF trade snapshot, Q3 2021

Exports to Ireland, Germany, Italy and Spain were particularly badly hit, continuing the trend seen over the last four years.

Exports to Ireland, the UK’s biggest overseas market, fell 21.2% compared to 2020 and 25.1% compared to 2019 - a loss of nearly £0.75bn.

Bucking the trend were key Scots products such as whisky and salmon, which were “both up around 21% from 2020 levels”, the FDF said.

Exports to non-EU markets grew 11% compared to 2020, with the FDF saying this was driven by a return to strong growth in China, Canada, Singapore, Japan and the Gulf. However, this is not sufficient to offset the decline seen since 2019, and sales were still down by around 4% when compared to that year.

The National:

James Withers, the head of Scotland Food and Drink, said the figures painted “a bleak picture”.

He noted that a fall of £1.3bn in the value of exports to the EU compared to the first nine month of 2020 showed “the price of Brexit”.

“Brexit doesn’t have to be like this. We got the worst possible Brexit, at the worst possible time,” he added.

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Mark English, a former head of media for the European Commission in London, added: “Another Brexit triumph … blatantly obvious you can't replace exports to Europe of often perishable food and drink with exports to the other side of the world, even if there was enough demand and/or tariff-free access... there is often neither!”

Richard Barfield, author at Brexitfactbase, commented: “It’s easy to be blasé about a billion lost here and a billion lost there, but anyone who has run a business knows how hard it is to win back a customer lost to a hungry competitor.

“Customer loyalty has huge long-term value but Brexit throws it away - in many cases forever.”