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Growing UK presence in total EU crisp exports

Publication Date: 
29 April 2016

Arthur Marshall, Analyst, arthur.marshall@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478956

Exports of crisps from the EU have grown for the past three years. UK crisp exports are a small but growing portion of this trade to non-EU countries, growing for the past five years, with the UK industry to capitalising on world demand trends. Here, we look at the trends and possibilities for further growth.

Annual EU exports of crisps surpassed 25,000t (approx. 87,000t raw potato equivalent) for the first time in 2015, growing 7% year-on-year. Of this, UK crisp exports heading outside of the EU grew 59% year-on-year to nearly 3,000t (c.10,000t raw equivalent), accounting for over 11% of the total EU figure. This was double the proportion four years ago. Nonetheless, exports within the EU still accounted for 84% of UK crisp exports in 2015, and there are a number of opportunities for the UK in these countries as we have previously looked at.

The main non-EU destinations for UK crisp exports in 2015 were Hong Kong (341t), USA (330t), China (311t) and the UAE (302t). However, on a total EU exports level, Ukraine was the largest crisp export destination, at around 6,100t, followed by Russia (1,900t) and Switzerland (1,500t). Year-on-year, Ukraine was also the fastest growing destination for EU crisp exports, rising by 1,500t (34%) in 2015. This was followed by China, Switzerland, UAE and Hong Kong.

Broadly, this suggests that the UK is already taking advantage of most of the fastest growing crisp export opportunities outside the EU. With growing imports from the EU, there should also continue to be opportunities for UK crisps in markets in the Far East, Middle East and North America.

According to World Potato Markets data, the USA is the main world crisp export competitor outside of the EU. The USPB also has an export strategy for crisping potatoes exported fresh, mainly targeting markets in the Far East. In these markets, this suggests that competing against product from the USA (on price and quality) could be important for continuing to increase exports.

However, another challenge for the UK could be to displace other EU competitors in nearer-by markets which are currently much larger for EU product. Of those mentioned above, Switzerland is the only one in which the UK had a significant share (10%) in 2015, which it could look to increase. Germany and Austria are the main competitors into this market.

The figures quoted here do not capture fresh potatoes exported to be crisped, or the size of this opportunity. However, anecdotally the opportunities for the UK to do this lie in similar markets to the crisp export opportunities.

The strength of sterling against the euro and US dollar will also affect the price competitiveness of UK crisp exports against our main competitors. Interestingly, UK crisp exports continued to increase as a proportion of EU exports in 2015 despite sterling being at it’s highest yearly level against the euro in eight years – so the currently weaker value of sterling than in 2015 should benefit export potential even further. Against the US dollar, in 2016 to date, sterling has so far been at its weakest on average since 1985.

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