Exports and imports of food and drink with non-EU countries have risen above pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The research shows food and drink imports are more than 13% higher than in 2019, while exports to major markets – including the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan and the UAE – also exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Canada, which provides many key ingredients used by UK manufacturers saw imports rise 5% while exports to the country were up 26% on pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, exports to India are up more than 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels and it still remains a large import partner – particularly for agricultural goods – accounting for £172.5m.

Read more: Food security is as strategically important as defence funding

With the UK-Japan trade agreement coming into force in 2021 and others on the horizon, including with Australia and New Zealand, it is expect that trade with non-EU countries will continue to grow.

One area which the Food and Drink Federation want to see a greater priority is to secure improved market access for UK exporters of cheese to Canada. They also want greater access to the Indian market as their health, organic, fortified and ready-to-eat packaged food sectors are booming.