Global standards organisation GS1 UK has announced continuing growth of UK food and drinks exports in 2017, which it attributes in part to the UK’s decision to leave the EU next year.

GS1 UK chairman James Spittle said in the organisation’s report named Brits Abroad: UK Food and Drinks Exports in 2018: “It is fair to say that the Brexit vote has given already strong figures an additional boost.”

Chief executive Gary Lynch also noted this in the report’s introduction, saying: “It would of course be disingenuous to ignore the fact that the EU referendum result and the weakened pound has added a certain amount of grist to the mill.”

THe organisation also surveyed its members and found 23% are expecting exports to account for more of their business after the UK’s withdrawal. Of the respondents, 44% said exports to the EU would increase over the next five years and 26% thought they would hold firm.

GS1 credits government’s initiatives such as Exporting is Great and Love British Food as helping food and drinks exports to succeed during the political turbulence of the Brexit negotiations.

Other explanations noted in the Brits Abroad report were the UK’s diversity of offering and quality of delivery creating an excellent reputation for British goods.

Spittle said: “Britishness remains a byword for excellence…One of the reasons our goods are so popular is not only their undeniable quality, but also the regulatory framework we have in place to ensure that standards are adhered to across the board.”

According to members surveyed, the export proportion of their business has increased by 11% to 15% since 2012.

Another explanation was the growth of small, innovative businesses which are preferred over larger brands by international consumers. These start-ups have a global focus and are using international online marketplaces and social media to their benefit.

Lynch said: “It’s not just the big boys who are capitalising on this British boom either with more boutique businesses getting in on the act, too.”

UK food and drinks exports experienced a record year in 2017 reaching a value of £22bn according to official government figures. Whisky remained the largest export with a total value of £4.5bn.

GS1 picked out gin and beer as major areas of growth both during the past five years and since 2012. It concluded that if gin exports continue to grow at the same rate, it would overtake whisky as the UK’s largest food and drink export in a decade.