The first quarter of 2020 saw UK food and drink exports fall by over £700m compared to the same period in 2019, new figures show.
Exports of food and drink in Q1 decreased by 12.7 percent to £5.1 billion compared to the same period last year.
Sales to the EU were hit the hardest, with total value falling by 17.4% compared to 2019, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said.
This decrease was largely driven by the immediate impacts of Covid-19, including the closure of hospitality and travel sectors.
This meant a loss of sales into restaurants, cafés, bars and the out-of-home sector across Europe.
While sales to the majority of the UK’s top markets declined, demand has been more resilient from others nations, including Singapore, Canada and Norway, which each saw sales growth of more than 10%.
The performance of FDF's top ten products has been mixed, with whisky, cheese, gin, wine, beer and breakfast cereals declining in value and volume.
Conversely, UK-produced salmon and pork saw over 10 percent value growth.
Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at FDF said: “We can now see how Covid-19 has impacted valuable overseas sales of UK food and drink that were worth over £23 billion in 2019.
“The closure of the hospitality sector in high-value export markets in the EU and further afield has been devastating for many exporters.
"However, we can also see that opportunities do remain in retail channels in many markets."
Ensuring a quick return to growth would be essential to support resilience in the industry and also the UK’s economic recovery, Mr Goudie said.
"We are working closely with government to set out a recovery plan that will deliver a return to sustainable export growth right across the UK."