Prospects for UK agri-food exports: Europe – EU 27

The EU remains one of the UK’s most important trading partners and will continue to be a key opportunity in the future due to the proximity of the market and well-established relationships. 

Summary of findings

Despite the UK choosing to leave the EU in 2021, it remains the UK’s largest trading partner. It is critically important for UK agriculture that this market is maintained and developed.

The UK has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU, but it no longer benefits from being part of the single market. This means UK exporters now face more checks and bureaucracy at the border. Many report difficulties in the form of non-tariff barriers, such as obtaining Export Health Certificates, physical checks on goods, and delays at borders, all of which add cost to exporters.

UK lamb, beef, pork, dairy and cereals are all key agri-food products exported to the EU. Although growth in consumption for these products will be more gradual than in other parts of the world, the size of the EU market and the well-established supply chains, along with the geographical proximity of the market, means that it will remain a key market for UK agriculture. It is important to remember the EU is a varied market – consumption and trade will be different with each of the 27 countries.

The priority markets are France, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, with other opportunities in Portugal, Italy and Poland. It will be essential to maximise potential trade opportunities where possible and fill any gaps that may arise from other trading partners.

Also, British meat and dairy is among the most sustainable in the world, and is produced to world-class food and farming standards in terms of sustainability and animal welfare. This holds many opportunities in the future, as the importance of sustainable livestock production is set to grow in importance in terms of trading partnerships and marketing of products.

Image of staff member Jess Corsair

Jess Corsair

Senior Economist

See full bio

Image of staff member Sarah Baker

Sarah Baker

Head of Economics - Analysis

See full bio

Where do the opportunities lie?