Business World

Friday 23 February 2018

Exports blow as UK food sales fall

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

IN A blow to Ireland's agricultural product exporters, demand for food has dropped in the UK.

New statistics show that food sales fell 2.7pc in August, helping drive the largest fall in UK retail sales in 10 months.

Food sales are now down 0.6pc compared to the same period last year as British consumers rein in spending.

Britain is the single largest consumer of Irish food exports.

The UK received nearly half of all Irish agricultural exports last year, about €4.4bn worth of goods.

These figures will, therefore, be closely watched by Irish farmers and agri-businesses. The August declines wiped out gains made in July, helped by unusually good weather in July.

The news confirmed fears that the feel-good summer spending boost – helped also by the birth of Britain's royal heir Prince George and the country's sporting successes in tennis, cricket and rugby – was short-lived.

As well as implications for Irish exporters, the slump in UK foods sales will hurt supermarket brands like Tesco. It follows warnings from some of Britain's biggest retailers, who have urged caution when it comes to the prospect of a recovery.

The release is the first UK economic indicator in a while to come in below forecasts, described yesterday by traders and economists as a "reality check" on UK growth hopes.

Sterling slipped 0.5pc against the dollar in response.

Irish Independent

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