THE latest HMRC data, released yesterday, shows that goods exports from the North-East in the 2018/19 financial year grew by two per cent to a record high of £13.3 billion.

Goods exports from the North-East have now grown for three consecutive years.

The number of businesses from the region exporting goods abroad has also increased. In the first quarter of 2019, 2,064 North-East based businesses exported abroad – 50 more than during the same period in the previous year.

A growing factor is the spiralling demand from Latin America and Caribbean, where exports increased at the fastest rate. In the 2018/19 financial year, North-East good exports to the region increased by 17.8 per cent to £258 million.

Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, said: “I am delighted that goods exports from the North-East have boasted particularly impressive growth rates over the past financial year, which is a consequence of the outstanding quality of produce and resilience of businesses across the region.

“When local businesses trade internationally, they provide profound economic benefits to the local economy, including more jobs and cheaper goods. By diversifying their markets globally, businesses of all sizes can benefit from increased competitiveness, which encourages greater innovation and prosperity.

“I encourage businesses throughout the North-East to use todays statistics as evidence that despite the global headwinds getting stronger, the world demands British goods at unprecedented levels. My international economic department is keen to work with businesses to ensure their full exporting potential is unlocked.”

One company reaping the benefits of exporting is Whitley Bay snack manufacturer, Oatein, which has sold more than 2.5 million units of its high-protein snacks such as flapjacks and cookies to health-conscious customers in 60 countries worldwide including Mexico, Brazil and Australia.

Oatein’s export sales currently account for about 90 per cent of annual turnover, and the company is set to enter the US, Canadian and Indonesian markets, supporting the creation of new jobs in the UK.

Thanks to support from the Department for International Trade (DIT), Oatein began exporting two months after it was founded and now expects its total revenue to grow by 200 per cent in the coming year.

Andy Dixon, Global Sales Director, Oatein, said: “The UK market is very competitive, so our initial strategy saw us taking Oatein abroad to trade shows in India, Germany, and the UAE.

“The brand and the taste were immediately very popular. The biggest challenge we’ve had was getting the product into different countries, which each have their own regulatory requirements.

“We’ve had to redesign the packaging twice to ensure that it is compliant with the regulations in as many countries as possible, and all our products are now fully halal certified. That’s a huge asset for us in the Middle East, which has the potential to be our biggest market.

“The low sugar protein bar market is growing at a huge rate, and the consumer reaction to our new bar has been amazing. We’ve been inundated with inquiries and we think we can triple our turnover with these new products. If a company like us from Whitley Bay can find such exporting success, many others can too.”