Welsh food and drink exports were worth £797 million in 2022, the highest recorded yearly value, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced.

Griffiths said the industry’s exports increased by £157 million between 2021 and 2022, representing a 24.5% rise.

This is a larger percentage increase than the UK as a whole, which grew by 21.6% during the same period.

Griffiths said: “Welsh food and drink exports continue to go from strength to strength, ensuring people in many countries abroad can enjoy high-quality products from Wales.

“The sector’s skills, drive for innovation and passion to provide the best possible produce is clear from today’s results.”

The value of the food and drink sector’s exports to the EU reached £594 million, a £130 million increase from 2021.

The industry’s exports to non-EU countries were worth £203 million in 2022, a large growth from £176 million in 2021.

The highest value destination for food and drink exports from Wales are:

  1. France (£150 million);
  2. Republic of Ireland (£145 million);
  3. Belgium (£78 million);
  4. Netherlands (£52 million);
  5. Germany (£51 million).

Meat and meat products were the highest value export categories in 2022 at £265 million, a 42% increase from 2021, while cereal and cereal preparations rose 16% to £160 million.

Industry growth

The minister has also announced a new scheme, the Strategic Innovation Scheme, to provide a range of support services to food and drink businesses across Wales.

Through this scheme, Project Helix, which offers technical and commercial support to the Welsh food and drink industry, will continue until March 2025.

According to the Welsh government Project Helix, which launched in 2016, has provided a £355 million economic boost to the industry, helped create 683 jobs and protected a further 3,647 jobs.

More than 700 businesses have been supported through the scheme and almost 2,100 new food and drink products developed.

The project will now be able to support larger manufacturers in Wales alongside small and medium-sized enterprises and microbusinesses that have already benefitted.

“The Strategic Innovation Scheme will underpin the Welsh government’s vision for the food and drink Industry,” Minister Griffiths said.

“As part of this, Project Helix, which has had a hugely positive effect on Wales’ food and drink industry, helping companies to adopt a more efficient and strategic approach, will continue until March 2005.

“The project’s positive impact is clear to see through the £355 million economic boost it has provided as well as the number of new jobs it has helped to create and the thousands it has protected.

“It has also been key in upskilling the Welsh workforce, and supported businesses to develop new products.”