Sweet taste of Brexit for chocolate exporters

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Chocolatiers are hitting the sweet spot this Easter, with new figures showing the Brexit-battered pound is helping boost overseas demand for British chocolate and fuelling a surge in exports.

A total of £405 million-worth of chocolate was exported from the UK last year, up 13% from 2015, according to new data from the Department for International Trade.

The lion’s share continues to go to EU countries, where UK chocolate exports reached £272 million in 2016, an increase of 18% from the previous year.

Britain’s confectionery brands have also seen sales grow further afield, with chocolate exports to non-EU countries rising from £127 million to £133 million.

Canada, Australia, the US and the United Arab Emirates now account for nearly half of the UK’s non-EU exports of chocolate, while more and more people in Hong Kong and South Africa are also choosing British treats.

Separate figures from the Food and Drink Federation, released in November, also showed a surge in chocolate exports, with the group pinning part of the growth on a weaker pound.

Sterling’s near 20% plummet versus the dollar has made British products cheaper overseas and buoyed domestic exporters.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who is attempting to lay the groundwork for post-Brexit trade deals, said the figures show there is an “increasing appetite for our diverse range of sweet treats”.

He added that his department is “helping new exporters get their first taste of international success, as part of an outward-looking global Britain”.

One such firm is The Grown Up Chocolate Company, which now exports to more than 10 countries globally.

Founder James Ecclestone said: “British food has got a real kudos abroad, where it’s seen as a quality product and we’re riding on the back of that.

“This year we expect exports to be at least 25% of our turnover.”