Food and Drink Export Support

Exporting food and drink can seem daunting, with a myriad of rules and regulations to comply with. Despite the obvious challenges, exporting your food and drink produce can be incredibly profitable. British produce has a reputation for high quality and provenance, underpinned by high environmental and animal welfare standards, and there is an abundance of opportunities out there. The following organisations offer specific food and drink export support to help you through this journey, whether you are exporting beer or organics, biscuits or tea, there is guidance to help you. This covers everything from finding out if you need an Export Health Certificate, to generating ideas for markets to export to.

Export support across the UK is primarily provided by DIT, Scotland Food and Drink, Food and Drink Wales, and Invest NI, alongside trade associations and private bodies.

The export support available to you may vary depending on your companies’ location or product, as such the links have been arranged by geographical area and organisation.

UK-wide Food and Drink export support

The Department for International Trade (DIT)

DIT offer a large variety of specific export services, detailing their food and drink offer here. Primarily, DIT provide expert advice, help in identifying target markets, facilitating introductions, and financial support. Their services include:

  • Exporting is GREAT, the Government’s flagship resource providing guidance on all steps along the export journey. This site includes:
    • Generic guidance on market research, customer insights, finance, business planning, getting paid, and operations and compliance
    • Export readiness guidance based on your experience level
  • 4 key services are offered through Exporting is GREAT, each offering opportunities or support for food and drink companies:
    1. E-Exporting portal – ‘Selling Online Overseas’. This allows you to find e-marketplaces for your business and access special discounted offers for sellers. Food and Drink is included within this. A free meeting with a DIT e-commerce adviser is also offered.
      • Guidance on this service can be found here.
    2. Find Export Opportunities – a database of export opportunities (foreign buyers currently tendering or interested in importing specific products).
    3. Find Events and Visits – sign up to attend networking events and trade missions
    4. Create an Export Profile – UK companies can make profiles that international compacts can see and contact you through

The Tradeshow Access Programme provides grants for eligible businesses to attend overseas tradeshows, helping businesses gain market knowledge, experience in attending tradeshows, and advice and support from trade experts. There are usually around 12 overseas food and drink tradeshows supported per year, with up to £2,500 available per business.

  • 6 Food and Drink High Value Campaigns, with various activities organised to support high value exports to the target markets. Contact your local ITA for more information.
  • Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) – this service introduces you to a DIT specialist based in UK Embassies or Consulates abroad. They will provide a tailored service, which may include collating market research or commercial guidance, providing introductions, and helping businesses participate in ‘in-market events’. There is a collection of bespoke services that OMIS can provide. There is a cost to this service. Contact your local ITA for more information (see England section), or contact the Post directly.
  • Country guides for exporters are available here

UK Export Finance, now part of DIT, can provide capital to finance projects, offer insurance against the risk of not being paid, or of not being able to recover the costs of fulfilling an export contract, amongst other services. They have an Export Working Capital Scheme, which offers local currency funding, direct lending, insurance programmes and bond support. View here for more information.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Visit Britain

Defra and its associated executive agencies, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) are responsible for the rules and policies surrounding exporting food and drink products, including market access negotiations, Export Health Certification, and the ‘Food is GREAT’ campaign.

  • Contact APHA Centre for International Trade Carlisle to check whether you need an Export Health Certificate (EHC). An EHC is usually required for exporting animal products outside the EU.
  • The RPA is responsible for issuing Certificates of Free Sale
  • Defra provides information on the rules governing food, feed and drink exports. View here for a list of Defra information relating to the Import, Export and Distribution of Food.
  • Defra, in partnership with DIT and VisitBritain, runs the Food is GREAT campaign, a government initiative to increase demand of UK food and drink around the world and support firms to export.
  • The UK Export Certification Partnership, a Defra/Industry partnership, has a searchable EHC database listing countries, products, and EHC examples
  • View here for comprehensive guidance on the special rules governing exporting food, drink and agricultural products
  • DAERA is responsible for Export Health Certification in Northern Ireland advice can found at

Trade Associations

Trade associations are a valuable source of export support, even if you are not a member of one. The following trade associations provide varying levels of support:

Provides useful export information on their website, including an overview of exporting meat and an overview of UK meat import and export trade

Other organisations

There are many other organisations that will offer export support, either free or paid for, including generic and food and drink specific support.  

Chambers of Commerce provide a great deal of support through Export Britain. This includes help in planning, finance, logistics, sales and marketing. They offer support in high growth markets, as well as market insights, help in getting started overseas, building market share, and building regional shares. This is provided through export readiness assessments, overseas market intelligence, export market seminars, amongst other services. 12 Chambers detail food and drink as a key industry specialism they offer support in, while more will do so.

The Federation of Small Businesses also provides support to its members, including matching individual businesses to interested overseas customers.

The China-Britain Business Council has experts in 15 Chinese locations, including one food and drink specialist available to help you export.

Local authorities or district councils can also provide export certification for certain products not covered by EHCs issued by APHA and DAERA, or where RPA Certificates of Free Sale do not meet the requirements of the destination country. This can relate to products that are not of animal origin, processed meat and dairy products, fishery products and manufactured food and drinks. Additional information can be found on the FSA website at and the FSS website at


DIT – International Trade Advisers

DIT offers free access to a Food and Drink International Trade Adviser (ITA) to companies based in the English regions.

ITAs can refer you to the full range of DIT services. Their services include providing advice on:

    1. Exporting training
    2. Business planning
    3. Providing contacts in overseas markets
    4. Market research (including referring you to the OMIS service)
    5. Market promotion
    6. Publicity
    7. Documentation support
    8. E-commerce opportunities

Each region may offer a slightly different service, for example in the South West, Business West, DIT’s delivery partner, offers a ‘Great British Food Programme’. This includes a directory of food and drink companies, and a blog outline key steps to export success. Other regions have a bespoke service too. Find and contact your local ITA for further information.

Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine

The Government has provided additional funding to these two regions to support export growth. This funding supports various activities, including trade missions to overseas shows. There have been missions to USA, Germany, India, UAE and France for example. Further details for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands events can be found on the Exporting is GREAT website.

Other providers

  • Local authorities may provide support. Check your local authority website for further information
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships and Growth Hubs may also provide support. For example, Marches Growth Hub provides access to specialist food and drink consultancies.


Scotland Food and Drink (SFD) and Scottish Development International (SDI)

SFD’s mission is to grow Scottish Food and Drink to a value of £30 billion by 2030, and build Scotland’s reputation as a ‘Land of Food and Drink’. Industry-led and delivered through its partner organisation, SDI, the following services are provided:

  • In-market specialists for food and drink companies in 11 cities worldwide (2017)
  • International Trade Advisers
  • Global trade events, including Scottish pavilions at food and drink tradeshows
  • Market visits
  • Workshops on specific markets, skills, and ‘learning journey’s’
  • Market intelligence research (for examples, see here – this research may be of use to rUK companies)
  • Meet the buyer and briefing events
  • A ‘Showcasing Scotland’ campaign to promote Scottish produce

Visit the SFD’s or SDI’s website for information on how to access or sign up for these services.

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)

SWA work with SFD (see here for more information) and hold a record of export requirements in overseas markets, and act to centralise information to facilitate exporting. This is provided to members.


Food and Drink Wales (FDW)

FDW is a government supported organisation that through its Export Support Programme offers:

  • The International Trade Development (ITD) programme – one-to-one work to develop companies own export strategies
  • The International Trade Opportunities (ITO) programme – opening up opportunities in a company’s chosen market, and assistance in navigating this market e.g. providing global contacts, expertise, advice of local trading conditions and regulations and setting up meetings with potential customers, agents or distributors
  • The Overseas Business Development Visit Support (OBVD) programme – enables businesses to undertake targeted visits to identified business contacts or trade exhibitions, to establish market presence through securing contracts and developing further opportunities.

For further details and information on how to access these services, visit their website, including specific pages on exporting and trade development.

Northern Ireland

Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI)

Invest NI offers a great deal of support, including:

  • Export Development Service – 1:1 support from an export adviser to help identify and address a company’s specific challenges to exporting. Focused on GB/RoI markets
  • Export Skills and Knowledge Workshops – discover what is involved in planning and implementing an export activity, and how to develop the skills
    • Attending businesses can receive a half-day 1:1 mentoring session for no extra cost
  • Business Information Centre – provides market intelligence, including market reports, company databases, trade publications etc.
  • Tender Alert Service – enables companies to identify local and international contract opportunities from a wide range of public sector organisations
  • Trade Advisory Service – access in-market export advisers based in countries around the world. They help with overseas market research, market entry strategies, targeting and lead generation, practical advice and guidance
  • Programme of seminars, roadshows and workshops
  • Invest NI Overseas Events Programme – inc. trade missions and exhibitions
  • Export Market Visits
  • Solex – supports businesses to exhibit independently at an approved trade exhibition outside NI
  • Translation / interpreting / legal services – to help your company develop export sales in a new/challenging market, financial assistance towards this is provided
    • E.g. translating marketing collateral, interpreting services at a Invest NI organised event
  • ‘Going Dutch’ and ‘Czech it out’ programme to explore opportunities in the Netherlands or the Czech Republic
  • Enterprise Europe Network – Invest NI is a regional host, helping SMEs access support services
  • UK Export Finance – NI companies can access this resource

Invest NI also has ‘Food and Drink Business Development Managers’ who help companies increase business abroad by generating leads and setting up face-to-face interviews between the companies and retail and foodservice buyers

Explore their services on their website, or read more about it here

Buy NI Food

This offers market research for exporters, and helps businesses target export activities through providing in depth information and guidance on breaking into new markets.

This is provided through their Business Information Centre. View more information here.

Other Organisations

  • Northern Irish companies can access export support services offered by the Republic of Ireland’s Bord Bia
    • This includes access Trade Fairs, development in supplying ‘own brand’ products to European retailers, and a ‘Marketing Fellowship’ programme
    • They also have an overview of 75 in-depth market studies across a range of priority markets, looking at meat, diary, and other sectors. This is free to access regardless of business location.
  • Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) provides services to enhance, promote, inform, educate and develop businesses members interests, including on exports
  • NI Business Info has generic support, but also has a very useful section on Food and Agriculture that details the special rules affecting exporting and importing. This includes international trade regulations, overseas veterinary certificates, customs clearance, and trading in fruit, vegetables and plant products.

European Union (EU)

The EU has several organisations which may help you support.

  • Market Access Database – this provides exporting companies information about import conditions in third countries
  • There are a variety of other services the EU provides for SMEs. You can view these here.
  • AUMA is a Trade Fair database, containing information on 5,000 tradeshows worldwide.
Export Action Plan