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UK Food & Drink success stories overseas
You can see how some UK companies are already making the most of exporting their products overseas with help from UKTI.
Somerdale International (Somerset)
Established in 1990, Somerdale International is a leading exporter of British and Irish Dairy products, as well as other perishable products.
Last year they turned over £24 million, and in 2009 were honoured with the Queens Award for International Trade.
The company is accompanying UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to the Anuga trade event in October 2013, and over the years have established a firm working relationship together.
Managing Director Stephen Jones said their top three markets included the USA, Caribbean and Australia, and that the most popular cheese exports included quality cheddars and blended cheeses such as white stilton with cranberries.
Mr Jones said UKTI had supported them on a number of occasions, most recently with their introduction into South East Asia. He said: "the Chinese market for cheese is thriving and the new younger middle class, who have been educated in western countries, are keen to continue eating the type of foods they might have experienced in the UK or USA."
Somerset cheeses represent a number of manufacturers, one of these being the Long Clawson Dairy, a farmers cooperative based in Leicestershire and the largest Stilton manufacturer in Britain. Others include Barbers Traditional in Somerset, and Abergavenny Fine Foods in Wales.
He added: "The UK have some really good products, manufacturers and superb chefs. And we really need to be promoting this more. There was a perception of British food of fish and chips and warm beer - but I think that is changing. I take my clients from overseas out to pubs here in the UK, and they are pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of food that we have on the menu. They think the food is really good. I fully support the International Action Plan; this is exactly what we need to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice."
Based on the Belvoir Castle Estate in Grantham, Lincolnshire, Belvoir Fruit Farms makes cordials and pressés from real fruit, without using any artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives.
Having enjoyed some export success over the past 20 years, in 2011 Belvoir appointed Peter Webster as its new International Sales Manager, to really focus on growing its overseas business. When the opportunity arose for him to join a UKTI Trade Mission to Japan in January 2013, he was keen to make his first visit to a market where the company already had a major customer.
Whilst in Tokyo, Peter benefited from briefings by UKTI staff at the British Consulate about how to do business in Japan, met Belvoir’s existing customer face-to-face for the first time, and carried out some informal market research of his own. Since the trip, sales to Japan have grown by 30 per cent.
“If it hadn’t been for the UKTI Trade Mission, I probably wouldn’t have visited Japan this year,” says Peter. “It’s encouraging to have their support, and their market briefings were very useful. It was also a great opportunity to meet our customer out there. You can’t beat sitting down face-to-face with someone to build trust and understanding. It’s made subsequent contact by phone and email much easier.”
Green Gourmet (Gloucestershire)
Stroud-based Green Gourmet has created a range of frozen, hand-held snacks that can be reheated in an aeroplane oven, without losing their taste or quality. Its products include a par-baked bacon baguette which stays crispy when heated, and French fries that come out of an airline oven crunchy, not soggy.
Having successfully launched the aeroplane snack range at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) in Germany in March 2012, Green Gourmet decided to focus its export efforts on the UAE. Through its Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), UKTI helped the company to attract potential customers at the International Travel Catering Association (ITCA) exhibition in Abu Dhabi, in November 2012. This resulted in a listing with Gate Gourmet, an independent provider of airline catering and provisioning services, for Green Gourmet’s fries and chicken poppers.
Since then, the company has appointed a distributor for the region, and plans to commission a further OMIS to identify contacts in the broader food service industry.
“UKTI has been incredibly supportive of us as we worked to break into the Middle East market,” says Rob White, International Business Development Manager. “UKTI is now our first port of call when exploring new markets.”
Prima Cheese (Durham)
Prima Cheese supplies the shredded cheese found on many of the pizzas made in the UK, along with other assorted baked goods. Its customers include bakeries, food wholesalers and even supermarket giant, Asda.
In 2011, the company decided to expand its business abroad. It contacted a UKTI Trade Adviser and in the winter of 2011, joined Passport to Export, the UKTI programme that gives exporting companies the tools they need to grow their business internationally.
Having identified the UAE as a potential market, Prima Cheese then commissioned an Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) to identify potential customers, before flying out to the UAE with the help of UKTI funding. The OMIS came back with a list of 20 local businesses, and UKTI arranged meetings for the company with 16 of them.
“We knew that pizza is hugely popular in the UAE and that there was likely to be high demand for our product,” says Nagma Ebanks Beni, Commercial Director of Prima Cheese. “UKTI’s OMIS report and funding for our trip was a game changer for us. That one trip helped us to secure two new clients, leading to thousands of pounds in new revenue a month.”
Coldpress makes fruit juices and smoothies using high pressure processing to extend their shelf life without losing any flavour, colour, aroma or nutritional value. Based in Central London since 2011, the company saw that there was nothing similar on the market in Europe, and set about exploring opportunities to launch its brand there.
Exhibiting at the Birmingham Food and Drink Expo 2012, Coldpress met representatives from UKTI who invited the company to be a part of its stand at international food exhibition, SIAL, in Paris. At the show, Coldpress attracted a lot of attention and found distributors for its products in Spain, Ireland, South Korea, Dubai and Qatar. The Spanish distributor has already secured a roll-out of Coldpress at El Corte Inglés stores across Spain.
“Exhibiting at SIAL with UKTI was a real catalyst for us,” says Andrew Gibb, Managing Director of Coldpress. “They put on a fantastic display and gave us high quality support to help us make the most of the opportunity. It’s early days, but off the back of just that one show we have already secured £20,000 worth of sales and a steady pipeline of enquiries from around the world.”
Chocolate and Love (London)
In 2010, two foodies, Richard O’Connor and Birgitte Hovmand, made it their mission to source and make the finest organic chocolate bars. They set up Chocolate and Love in London, and began to produce a unique range from ingredients sourced from Fair Trade cooperatives in Peru, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Madagascar.
Initially, Chocolate and Love sold primarily to high-end outlets around the UK and also had some customers in Denmark. Early experiences attending local trade fairs didn’t bring in new overseas business. Then, in 2012, UKTI contributed to the cost of the company exhibiting at SIAL in Paris through the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP). It joined a delegation of British businesses showcasing their products under the UKTI banner. This was a major turning point, Chocolate and Love is now exporting to 21 countries, and aims to be in 25 by the end of this year.
“We certainly wouldn’t have gone to SIAL if it wasn’t for UKTI’s support,” says Richard. “We came away with 120 new contacts from over 30 countries and this has already resulted in £100,000s worth of new business for us. We couldn’t have hoped for more.”
East India Trading Company (London)
In 2004, Indian entrepreneur Sanjiv Mehta made it his mission to revive an icon of British history - The East India Company. He launched its flagship store in Mayfair in August 2010, stocking over 350 luxury products including teas, coffees, chocolates, jams and wines, crafted from ingredients sourced from around the word.
In 2012, the company found a franchisee in the Middle East and planned to open its first store outside the UK, in Kuwait’s Avenues Mall. The local team of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) stepped in to offer its support and arrangements were soon in place for a launch event at the Ambassador’s Residence. Over 50 high-level guests attended, including diplomats and directors of Kuwaiti companies. The feedback was so positive that The East India Company already has plans for similar launch events in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“The Ambassador’s Residence was a beautifully unique, high profile venue for our launch, attracting many important guests,” says Ashini Shah, Marketing Manager at The East India Company. “UKTI was very proactive in the support they gave us, helping us to put together a memorable programme for the event. We were delighted with the results.”