United Kingdom 2021 Export Highlights

Top 10 U.S. Agricultural Exports to United Kingdom

(values in million USD)
Commodity 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2020-2021 % Change 2017-2021 Average
Wine & Related Products 227 222 243 244 195 -20% 226
Tree Nuts 212 197 211 197 173 -12% 198
Food Preparations 136 149 131 155 152 -2% 145
Distilled Spirits 187 190 112 84 107 28% 136
Ethanol (non-beverage) 16 6 45 48 102 114% 43
Essential Oils 112 103 93 89 79 -10% 95
Dextrins, Peptones, & Proteins 40 38 41 54 67 25% 48
Vegetable Oils (ex. soybean) 20 33 33 35 64 86% 37
Fresh Vegetables 84 86 77 73 63 -13% 77
Soybeans 0 109 100 60 62 3% 66
All Others 855 866 697 688 732 6% 768
Total Exported 1,888 1,998 1,782 1,726 1,798 4% 1,839

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data - BICO HS-10


In 2021, the UK was the 14th-largest export destination for U.S. products, importing $1.9 billion, a slight increase over 2020. The EU is the largest supplier of agricultural goods to the UK, with 71-percent market share, followed by the United States. U.S. exports of distilled spirits and vegetable oils performed well, increasing by $55 million and $30 million, respectively. Commodities showing declines in 2021 were wine and wine related products, down $49 million, and tree nuts, down $24 million. The UK was the fifth-largest export destination for U.S. bakery goods, cereals, and pasta; fifth-largest for fresh vegetable exports; fourth largest for distilled spirit exports; second largest for wine and related product exports; fourth largest for milled grain and product exports; fourth largest for animal fats, and third largest for confectionary.


  • The UK presents strong market opportunities for many U.S. consumer-oriented products, including specialty food products, “healthy” food items, sauces, fruits, nuts, and juices.
  • In 2021, U.S. exports of distilled spirits were up 28 percent from the previous year. U.S. whiskies, bourbon, vodka, and tequila showed significant growth. As restaurants and bars re-open, sales from retail and foodservice channels and distilled spirit consumption in the UK is expected to increase from 2021 onwards.
  • In 2021, U.S. ethanol exports increased by 95 percent. In Fall 2021, the UK raised its fuel ethanol blend to E10 as well as its blend mandate, increasing overall demand.
  • Vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based products is a trend that is rapidly expanding. The sector doubled in value between 2016 and 2020 and, in 2021, was valued at $1.6 billion at retail.
  • In 2021, sales of organic food and beverages reached $4.2 billion an increase of 5 percent on the previous year and a 23-percent increase since 2019, making the UK the world’s ninth-largest organic market.
  • Consumer-oriented food and beverage products remain the most important sector for U.S. agricultural exports to the UK, amounting to $1 billion in 2021.

United Kingdom’s Agricultural Suppliers

Stacked column chart showing global agricultural suppliers to the United Kingdom in 2021.  The top suppliers were the EU, U.S., and Brazil.

Looking Ahead

One of the biggest trends in the UK is an increase in demand for organic food and beverages. Organic sales and online and home-delivery subscriptions models (e.g., Hello Fresh) present opportunities for U.S. exports to the UK. A study by the UK’s largest organic certifying body, the Soil Association, reported that the British organic food and beverage market (the world’s ninth largest) reached $4.2 billion in 2021. This was an increase of 5 percent on the previous year and an increase of 23 percent since 2019. The UK and the EU have agreed to mutual recognition for organics until December 2023. However, Brexit has made trade more difficult because of additional customs checks, which makes the UK less attractive as a distribution hub for several food and agricultural products.

The wine and beer sector has continued to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, largely due to decreased demand for alcoholic beverages in the hospitality sectors that have experienced unforeseen closures and capacity restrictions. Uncertainty caused by the UK’s exit from the EU has impacted the transatlantic wine trade, particularly because (prior to Brexit) the UK served as the major hub for bottling U.S. wine bulk shipments destined for the EU. The new Rules of Origin may be another factor that led to the decline in U.S. exports to the UK as bottling bulk wine for onward shipping incurs more duty than pre-Brexit and additional paperwork. The EU requires wet signatures for third-country wine imports despite UK-EU and U.S.-EU wine agreements accepting digital signatures. The UK has removed the VI-1 certificate for bilateral shipments, but any wine going from the United States to the EU through the UK will need one. This is pushing bulk bottling to the EU.

The United States and the EU will continue to be competitors in the UK market with the EU having advantages of proximity, integrated supply chains, and trade without import duties. In addition, the United States will also face competition from the increasing number of the UK’s free trade agreement partners. U.S. products will face most favored nation tariffs which, for a number of products, exceed 25 percent. The UK’s animal welfare standards remain a barrier for animal origin products.

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