British chocolate exports to the EU continue to grow

By Oliver Nieburg contact

- Last updated on GMT

 UK chocolate to the EU ©GettyImages/scholes1
UK chocolate to the EU ©GettyImages/scholes1

Related tags: European union, United kingdom

UK chocolate exports to European Union member states are continuing to grow even as Brexit approaches in 2019.

UK chocolate value exports to EU nations (+7.1%) outpaced exports to non-EU countries (+5.1%) from January to September 2017, data released by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) shows.

This differs to the trend in overall food & drink in the third quarter (Q3), where growth to non-EU markets (+18.2%) outperformed EU markets (+12.5%).

Readers’ survey

brexit uk eu europe Bee-individual

In ConfectioneryNews’ shortly to be published 2017 State of the Confectionery Industry survey, 74% of respondents - readers of the site - said Brexit has had no impact on their business.

Fewer respondents to this year’s survey (22%) saw a negative impact to Brexit compared to last year’s survey respondents (31%). 

FDF: ‘EU remains our number one trading partner’

Ian Wright CBE, director general of trade body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), said “Exports to non-EU markets did outperform those to EU markets in the last quarter but the EU remains our number one trading partner.

“With fewer than one in five food and drink manufacturers exporting, it is vital that we continue to work closely with Government to take advantage of the opportunities to sell Great British and Northern Irish food and drink abroad.”

Brexit impact on chocolate

The UK is set to depart the EU at 11pm UK time on March 29, 2019 following a public referendum in favor of Brexit on June 2016.

EU countries accounted for 72.9% of UK chocolate exports in the first nine months of this year.

The proportion of chocolate value sales to EU countries is unchanged since before the Brexit vote, remaining largely static since 2015.

UK chocolate exports up in value down in volume

Overall UK chocolate exports - to EU and non-EU countries - were up in value terms for the first nine months of 2017 despite lower volumes. 

UK value sales in chocolate climbed +6.6% to £502m ($670) over the period in spite of a -2.7% drop in volume sales to 124,695 tons.

However, the category grew at a slower rate than overall UK food & drinks exports, which rose +11% in value to £16.1bn ($21.5bn) from January to September, after a record-breaking first half.

Chocolate was the UK’s third main food & drink export by value behind whisky and salmon in the latest third quarter.

Chocolate: Exports to Belgium, Ireland and Germany rise

Ireland remained the top destination for UK chocolate exports, accounting for 30.3% of category exports by value in the first nine months of 2017.

Chocolate value sales rose +7.9% to Ireland over the period, +8.5% to Germany and +20.85% to Belgium

Chocolate exports to Australia are also recovering after a dip in 2016.

Partner Country

2017 (Jan-Sept) £

% Share

% Change




















 - 7.47












 - 8.63

Source: HMRC

Gum and sugar confectionery: Growing confectionery exports

UK sugar confectionery exports – which includes white chocolate – were up +9.4% to £160m ($213.4m) in the first nine months of 2017 also driven by growth to the EU.

Chewing gum exports also grow faster than chocolate exports in first nine months of 2017.

Category value exports were up +9% to £12.9m ($17.2m), but this was driven by growth to non-EU countries such as Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Israel.

However, there was a steep rise in gum exports to the Netherlands over the period.

Wrigley dominates the UK market with a value share of around 89%, according to Euromonitor International.

Related topics: Markets, Chocolate

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