International food action plan launched by government
Published:  19 October, 2016

The government has unveiled its plan for growing the value of British exports by an additional £2.9 billion by 2020. 

In the UK Food and Drink International Action Plan 2016-2020, compiled by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade, it sets out the main strategic objectives for boosting UK exports.

It said: “The UK is renowned for its excellent food and drink. We have an established reputation as a land of quality, reliability and transparency. We need to make the most of the export opportunities that result from this. As the global appetite for UK food and drink grows, it is crucial that our food and drink businesses have the tools and support they need to sell abroad.”

The plan details three main objectives: encouraging companies to export for the first time and for those that already do, to export more; providing more support so businesses have the information, finance and skills to export; building volume and opening more trade opportunities in key markets, as well as creating new demand in third countries.

Through the Great British Food Unit, it has created nine campaigns that cover 18 countries and has outlined targets for each of these campaign areas. From a meat processing perspective, the USA, Canada, China and India have been highlighted as export opportunities for the UK.

Target Area

Target Export Growth for 2020


Australia & New Zealand


Ambient, Health, Beer, Cider

Mexico & Latin America


Premium Grocery, Traditional Grocery, Alcohol



Lamb, Whisky, Beer, Seafood



Speciality, Free-From, Vegan, Organic



Ambient, Beer, Spirits



Foodservice Ingredients, Ambient

USA & Canada


Lamb, Beef, Beer, Cider



Pork, Beef, Lamb, Poultry, Seafood

UAE & Gulf


Premium Grocery, Confectionery, Snacks

The plan also calls on trade associations and levy boards to support members and levy payers by working with government to support these overseas campaigns. The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) itself has set out an export growth target of £550m by 2020 across its six sectors.

For first-time exporters, it will be offering support to businesses considering selling abroad. It hopes to have an additional 100,000 UK businesses exporting by 2020 through the Exporting is GREAT campaign, which was launched last year.

As part of its plan to open new markets and protect existing trade, Defra has pledged to work in close partnership with sector-specific export certification user groups to prioritise and progress negotiations.

The Great British Food Unit’s Market Access Team will continue to work with industry through sector partnership groups to progress agreed priority markets. This includes AHDB undertaking market trend analysis to identify new export opportunities to inform market prioritisation and the British Poultry Council working to maintain and expand existing markets and explore new opportunities, including working with government to re-open markets following disease outbreaks. In addition, the Council is involved in organising, hosting and funding inward missions to secure and maintain market access.

To help facilitate export health certificate delivery efficiency, the government is looking at options for implementing e-certification and helping businesses “embed” certification requirements into their planning.