Air Freight vs Sea Freight for UK Food and Drink Exports: Which is Best?

November 3, 2021

When looking to export UK food and drink products, those sourcing these products face a choice – air freight or sea freight. The decision often boils down to price and speed, and while air freight offers a shorter transit time than sea, it’s also more expensive.

In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of air freight and sea freight for UK exports, as well as the factors that influence your choice of transport for exporting UK products such as food and drink products.

Exporting UK Food and Drink Products Via Air Freight – Pros and Cons

As mentioned, if you need your food products in a hurry, then you are almost sure to choose air freight. From the moment you place your order, space on cargo flights can be secured within a matter of hours, and your pallets can arrive at the final destination within days.

The issue, of course, is that the convenience of rapid transportation costs more. A £150 sea shipment can cost as much as £750 to be delivered via the skies. Secondly, the environmental impact of air freight is much higher than shipping via the sea (and sea freight is far from perfect).

Lastly, while aeroplanes can handle plenty of freight tonnage, they are tiny in capacity terms compared to container ships.

At Leverbrook Export, we help keep costs and environmental impacts to a minimum by securing spots on existing flights (that would have travelled anyway, regardless of your export order) and for no extra cost. That’s right. We make no profit on top of air freight expenses; it is offered to you at cost.

Exporting UK Food and Drink Products Via Sea Freight – Pros and Cons

In contrast to air freight, sea freight is the cheaper transportation method when exporting British produce. Sometimes the costs can be a fifth or less when compared to air freight. You can also secure huge volumes at those reduced prices with a shipping container holding as many as 10,000 beer bottles!

However, the drawbacks are obvious. As the recent Suez Canal incident has demonstrated, ships are less reliable than air transportation, and they are most certainly slower. It often takes several weeks for an export order to arrive.

That said, with effective forward planning, you can order your shipment to arrive in plenty of time before you run out of inventory.

Whether You Prefer Air Freight or Sea Freight – Leverbrook Export is Here to Help

When choosing between the two shipment methods, it’s a case of selecting the option that represents the best fit for your specific circumstances.

At Leverbrook Export, not only can we help you make the right decision, but we can offer air freight and sea freight services on our exported product at cost. Better still, we offer groupage consolidation and Less than Container Load (LCL) services as part of our export offering.

So if you are looking to import the best of UK food and drink products, then why not get in touch with a member of our team today to discuss your shipping options? We are available Monday to Friday on +44 (0) 151 645 3517 or via email at