Andrea Leadsom said British farmers can expect a bright future
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said exports showed "no sign of slowing" after they grew by almost 10 per cent in 2016 following Britain’s decision to cut ties with the European Union (EU) in June.
Unveiling the figures ahead of a speech to the National Farmers' Union conference in Birmingham, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced she was expanding expert support for businesses considering selling their goods on the global market.
She said: "It's great to see the global appetite for British food and drink continues to grow – thanks to our well-established reputation for taste, quality and high animal health and welfare standards.
Exports hit a record £20billion last year
It's great to see the global appetite for British food and drink continues to grow – thanks to our well-established reputation for taste, quality and high animal health and welfare standards
"I want to see more companies taking advantage of these opportunities, which is why we're expanding our team of trade experts to support UK businesses, encouraging them to take the leap and share their quality produce with the world."
Total food and drink exports hit £20.1bn in 2016, up from £18bn the previous year, according to HM Revenue and Customs figures.
Exports grew in nine out of 10 of the UK's leading export markets – Ireland, USA, France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, China and Hong Kong.
Whisky made up more than 20 per cent of all food and drink exports
There has been a rise in pork sales by more than 70 per cent Brexit: Which parts of the UK had the majority vote? Fri, February 17, 2017
Much of the North East of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union including Sunderland, Gateshead, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside, and Northumberland. Newcastle was the only borough to vote to remain.
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GREAT YARMOUTH: The town of Great Yarmouth on the East Coast of England voted by 72% to leave the European Union.
China entered the top 10 for the first time, with export growth of nearly 50 per cent, including a rise in pork sales of more than 70 per cent to £43million.
India was identified as a priority market due to growing demand for Scotch whisky, while overall food and drink sales to Malaysia grew by 143 per cent.