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  • North East food and drink exports increased by 5.5% in the year to March 2018, compared to the 12 months previous
  • Coffee, tea, cocoa and spices, along with cereals are most popular North East food and drink exports
  • Food and drink exports to China grew by over 60% during the period

Exports of North East food and drink increased to £250 million in the year to March 2018, an increase of 5.5% compared to the previous 12 months, the latest HMRC figures show.

The most popular products from the region overseas were coffee, tea, cocoa and spices (£80 million) and cereals (£33 million).

The products that showed the most significant growth in exports over the 12-month period were dairy (up 40% to £19m) and fruit and vegetables (up 21% to £13 million).

The statistics also show that more firms in the region are targeting China, with 61% more food and drink exported to the country during the period, when compared to the previous 12 months.

One business that’s seen an uplift in sales first hand is Whitley Bay snack company Oatein. The company, which produces a range of high-protein snacks such as flapjacks and cookies, was founded in 2016. It has since sold more than 2.5 million of its products in more than 60 countries worldwide. Export sales account for 90% of Oatein’s total turnover and the business expects to see its revenue grow by 200% in the coming year.

The government has set up its Food is GREAT campaign to showcase UK food and drink overseas, and to help firms export. Businesses looking to start or grow their sales abroad can access support from expert trade advisers on the ground in the North East.

Following support by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), a number of North East based companies have been able to visit overseas markets around the world on recent trade missions, including the Food & Hotel China show in Shanghai and Gulfood in Dubai.

 David Coppock, Head of North East region at DIT, said: “Many North East food and drink firms, from cheesemongers to brewers, are finding great success overseas.

“Exporting can be highly lucrative, helping to boost a company’s resilience, weather seasonal fluctuations and increase profitability – but it can have its challenges. DIT offers a range of support to help firms to take their first step selling abroad, from help to attend trade missions, to one-to-one guidance from export trade advisers. Many, like Oatein, are already finding success overseas, and if they can do it, you can too.”

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