The Netherlands is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of agri-food products – over 30% of all the country’s imported vegetables come from the Netherlands. The UK is a large and dynamic market for agri-food products, where there are opportunities for innovative and niche products. In 2020 Dutch agricultural exports to the UK had a value of over €8.4 billion, making the UK the third-largest export destination for these products. Exports in horticulture, meat and fresh fruit and vegetables each contributed more than €1 billion.

Retail: supermarkets dominate, online sales increase

The UK has one of the world’s most-developed grocery markets. It has traditionally been dominated by the ‘big four’ supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. But the landscape has changed: discounters such as Aldi and Lidl have significantly increased their market share, while high-end supermarkets such as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have also thrived. Convenience is driving online grocery sales. Competition from online retailers like Ocado and AmazonFresh and new delivery startups like Dija and Weezy challenge the ‘big four’ in the online grocery market.

Horticulture and ornamental plants

The UK imports over 6 million tonnes of horticultural products annually, 700,000 tonnes of which are from the Netherlands. Fruit grown in the UK accounts for just 18% of domestic sales and only 55% of vegetables are homegrown. The Netherlands is the largest exporter of vegetables and fruits to the UK after Spain. Half of all ornamental plants, bulbs and flowers sold in the UK come from another country, and 80% of flowers come from or via the Netherlands. The main sales channels for cut flowers and pot plants are supermarkets, garden centres and florists.

Technology, knowledge and services

The fundamental prospects for agri-tech are good in the United Kingdom.  Farmers look to new technology to increase productivity and reduce their carbon footprint. The UK government promotes the development and use of new technologies, knowledge and skills to increase the sustainability and productivity of agriculture. There is potential for innovation in areas where the Netherlands has a strong position, such as horticultural technology, agri-robotics, and cropping systems.

Image: ©Dutch Embassy

How can the Embassy help you?

You can find more background information about the UK market, opportunities for Dutch companies and information about how the Embassy can help you at Agroberichten Buitenland

You are welcome to contact the agriculture team at any time.