Food and non-alcoholic beverage exports from the UK have increased to £12bn in 2011, according to Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The industry has registered a growth of 11.4% in 2011, compared to 2010, when the UK non-alcoholic and food sector crossed £10bn for the first time.

The current boom in exports was achieved due to a bullish performance in new and growing markets including Eastern Europe and the Far East.

UK food and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers achieved 55% increase in exports to China, compared to 2010.

China has entered into the top 20 importing countries of UK food and non-alcoholic drinks products due to changing food habits and popularity of Western foods.

Exports of British food and non-alcoholic beverages to other major Asian countries South Korea and Hong Kong increased 37% and 41%, respectively.

Exports to European Union (EU) nations gained 77% and non EU countries gained 23%. During the period of 2010-11, the UK industry’s exports to the US rose 25%.

UK’s EU market remained unchanged as Ireland retained its numero uno position as the top importer in 2011 followed by France and the Netherlands.

Exports to the Dutch land gained 30%, while exports to Belgium and Germany increased 29.9% and 15%, respectively.

In the non-alcoholic segment, milk and cream product exports increased 20%, and soft drinks reported double digit growth.

The food and beverage sector remained least affected during the economic slowdown due to the strong performance in the overseas markets, compared to other manufacturing sectors.

The UK government and the food and beverage industry have jointly formed an exports action plan to boost exports and elimination of different restrictions.

FDF director general Melanie Leech said whilst the domestic market is growing at a steady rate it is seeing very strong performance from food and drink exports.

"There remains considerable interest in British heritage brands and around our health and wellbeing innovation," Leech said.

"Companies understand the importance of developing new markets, competing successfully in many cases against other experienced exporters in France, Germany and Spain.

"We were delighted to work with Government on the export action plan launched earlier this year, which should be of benefit in particular to SMEs which are by far the biggest sector of our industry and have the potential to grow in existing and emerging markets."