UK exports of dairy products plummeted in the first half of 2021 compared to the year before as a result of Brexit trade disruption and the impact of the pandemic.
The latest trade figures show UK exports of dairy products were 11% lower in the first half of 2021 than in Jan-Jun 2020, and imports were 12% lower in the same period.
For the 2021 period, imports and exports of all major categories were down year-on-year, with the exception of the ‘milk and cream’ category.
This category was up 2% year on year for exports, while imports were up 17% on the year. This is mainly driven by milk crossing the Irish border.
The AHDB explained that the fall in exports was primarily driven by trade disruption following the new trade regulations brought in by Brexit.
It also said exports were well down due to the lingering effects of pandemic lockdowns on import demand and supply chain disruption.
Figures by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) show that UK food and drink exports to the European Union fell 47% in Q1 2021 compared to the same period last year.
The trade body said the loss of £2 billion of exports to the EU was a 'disaster' for the food and drink industry.
Non-EU food and drink exports exceeded the EU's share in Q1 2021, with sales around the rest of the world accounting for 55%.
Dominic Goudie, head of international trade, the FDF, said: "[It is a] very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU.
“We set out a plan to mitigate these impacts by boosting support for exporters, and this was backed by the Trade and Agriculture Commission.
"The government must stop prevaricating and get behind these proposals to help exporters that have been shut out of trading with the EU.”