Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Agricultural worker shortages and the war in Ukraine have made it harder for the UK to produce and stock its own food, creating opportunities for more imports from the U.S., including Wisconsin.
The United Kingdom imports nearly half—46%—of all the food its residents consume, and the pressure is on for even more.
Seasonal worker shortages have been compounded by the attack on Ukraine—traditionally, the source for two-thirds of the UK’s seasonal employees, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.
Outside of the European Union, the U.S. is the UK’s largest supplier for agricultural, food, fish, and forestry imports. In 2021, those imports totaled $2.7 billion. U.S. fish and seafood alone drew $67 million worth of sales in the UK in 2021 because of low levels of fish in Europe’s traditional fishing grounds.
High-quality, health-oriented foods are in great demand by consumers and major retailers in the UK—especially those produced with environmental and animal welfare considerations—and specialty, branded snack foods and groceries have also found success there. Wisconsin providers may find market opportunities in areas such as wines, sauces, fish and shellfish, fruit, nuts, and juices.
Negotiations continue on trade barriers imposed on certain U.S. products, such as meat and poultry, and Wisconsin exporters will have to be aware of strict UK retailer rules on food safety, environmental issues, and plant inspections. But Wisconsin producers should have opportunities to promote locally produced beverages as well as foods that highlight health, the environment, and sustainability.