Fewer food products crossing the Channel

In the period January-August 2021, fresh food exports to the UK declined in value by 193 million euros year-on-year. Half of these exports consisted of fruit and vegetables.

In the first eight months of 2021, Dutch exporters sold 1.1 billion euros worth of fruit and vegetables to customers in the UK. This is 14 percent less compared to the same period in 2015.


In the same period, the total value of fruit and vegetable exports from the Netherlands grew by 34 percent. Likewise, the value of meat, dairy and fish exports to the UK showed a similar downward trend.


UK has become a less important market for Dutch perishables


In January-August 2015, the year before the referendum on Brexit, the UK was holding a share of 11.5 percent in Dutch exports of fresh food products. This made the UK the second-largest export destination for such products. In the meantime, the UK share has declined to 7.6 percent.


This has put the UK in fourth place among the top export destinations, after the neighbouring countries (Germany and Belgium) and France. Vice versa, the UK also supplied far fewer goods which depend on fast logistic handling, including fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and fish. In the first eight months of 2021, Dutch companies imported 281 million euros worth of perishables from the UK. This is almost half of the value imported in 2020.


More tomatoes but fewer peppers, cucumbers, onions and pears


Among the perishables, the most important fruit and vegetable exports to the UK are fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions and pears. These five types of produce were good for approximately two thirds of all fresh fruit and vegetable exports to the UK. In January-August 2021, the export value of fresh tomatoes stood at 169 million euros, i.e. 2 percent more than in 2020. On the other hand, UK-bound exports of peppers, cucumbers, onions and pears declined in value. Now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU, Dutch exporters have to consider various non-tariff measures and inspections, aside from longer transit times. As of 1 January 2021, when the UK was officially excluded from the common market of the EU, various customs formalities have become necessary. Aside from customs declarations or declarations of origin, exporters of fresh vegetable and animal products have had to include health certificates with each shipment.


Sources: StatLine - Import and export value; key figures