Foods and drinks exports to the European Union nearly halved within the first three months of the yr, in comparison with the identical interval in 2020.
The Meals and Drink Federation (FDF) figures present EU gross sales dropped by 47%.
The commerce physique stated the decline was largely as a result of modifications within the UK’s buying and selling relationships, however stated the pandemic was additionally an element.
The federal government stated it was “too early to attract any agency conclusions” on the long run impression of Brexit.
It additionally stated the pandemic had depressed demand.
“The latest ONS commerce statistics present that for each March and April, total exports to the EU have exceeded the common ranges throughout 2020,” it added.
Dominic Goudie, the FDF’s head of worldwide commerce, stated the drop was a “catastrophe” for the trade.
“It’s a very clear indication of the size of losses that UK producers face within the longer-term as a result of new commerce obstacles with the EU.”
Cheese gross sales hardest hit
New commerce obstacles weren’t the one issue affecting cross channel commerce. The Meals and Drink Federation stated that the Covid-19 outbreak accounted for a decline of some 10-15%.
Figures for the quarter had been additionally affected by firms stockpiling forward of the Brexit-related modifications.
The mix of those elements, the Federation says, led to important falls within the worth of main exports.
In contrast with the primary quarter of 2019 – earlier than Covid turned an element – exports of cheese had been down 72%; fish gross sales had been down 52% and chocolate was down 37%.
Exports of food and drinks to just about all EU nations fell considerably within the first quarter, in contrast with the identical interval final yr.
Worst hit was commerce with Eire – usually the sector’s largest abroad market. It was down by greater than 70%. However gross sales to Germany, Spain and Italy additionally greater than halved.
For many years, the UK has offered extra food and drinks to the European Union than the remainder of the world mixed.
Nevertheless, the autumn in shipments to Europe means that’s not the case. Within the first quarter exports to non-EU nations made up 55% of the full.
The FDF stated that is the primary time this has occurred in at the very least 20 years.
General, gross sales to non-EU international locations rose by 0.3% – though there was a big improve in shipments to China.
Gross sales to the area, which fell within the first quarter of final yr as a result of Covid-related lockdowns, recovered to succeed in £200m – properly above their pre-pandemic degree of £163m.
On 31 December, the so-called ‘implementation interval’, in place since Britain left the EU, got here to an finish.
That meant commerce throughout the channel turned topic to new post-Brexit rules and customs formalities for the primary time.
This FDF says this has had a very important impression on the commerce in merchandise of animal origin and different perishable meals, as a result of it led to important delays whereas formalities had been accomplished.
“Commerce that might take 12 hours prior to now can now take a day or perhaps a week”, stated Mr Goudie.
“Should you lose two days and even three days it takes a giant chunk out of the of shelf lifetime of the product, which makes the commerce itself much less viable”.