Food, glorious foodAs a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Food and Drink Specialist and International Trade Adviser, it seems to me that the sweet taste of success is already being enjoyed by the UK's confectionary industry. However, there's still room for those in the industry to excel even further when it comes to overseas sales, especially when you have the help and support of UKTI.
Things are looking up in the world of food and drink. And confectionary is no exception. Already the largest manufacturing sector in the country, with a turnover of over £90 billion, this industry employs up to 400,000 workers and represents a massive 15 per cent of the overall manufacturing workforce in the UK.
While this is good news, there is always scope for growth and the huge untapped potential for export among small and medium sized businesses across the sector is plain to see, with 90 per cent of firms either not exporting or trading only with close European neighbours.
This, when demand for British food and drink products overseas is growing fast (15 per cent increase in the last two years) and the appeal of UK food and drink products is as strong as ever, particularly in the Asian markets: Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have a growing taste for high-end luxury confectionary products, and the UK is renowned as the best provider.
Even though this is the case, I can understand some firms are apprehensive about exporting. Having worked in the food and drink industry for over ten years, I know how daunting it can seem. However, UKTI is here to help and can offer you top level support for your international journey, particularly at a time when global demand is so high.
As UKTI International Trade Advisers, it is our job to apply our experiences of the sector to provide expertise, advice and support to businesses looking to expand their operations overseas. Depending on your area, trade advisers like me are at hand to introduce you to new markets, help you with market research and build a bespoke export plan suited to your business.
City Delights, a London-based confectionary company (and a client of mine) is a prime example of what UKTI can offer firms wanting to export. The firm has a typically British creative flare which had already propelled them to success domestically, and it was this innovation which brought them to my attention when I met with the Managing Director, Paul Boon. I worked closely with Paul and helped him secure two market visits to New York this year in May and July. Attending the Fancy Food Fair exhibition in July, they were able to secure orders from four of New York's top departments stores, gaining them £100,000 in additional revenues and a strong foothold in a US market hungry for all things British.
Likewise, I met with Richard O'Connor, managing director of London-based firm 'Chocolate and Love' three years ago before they had even considered exporting. With our help, they exhibited at SIAL 2013 and turned their revenues from about £100,000 turnover in 2010 to around £1m in 2013.
UKTI's help doesn't stop there. Recently I joined Owen Patterson, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and a delegation of 35 British companies to FHC China. The seven London firms I accompanied exhibited their unique products on a subsidised UKTI London stand, securing them a potential £2m worth of orders and £1m in added revenue. Of the seven companies there at least four of them signed with an importer on-site, with others following up afterwards, plus key interest from the Foodservice and supermarket chains both in China and elsewhere
I urge all companies who are considering taking the next step on their business journey to follow the example of Chocolate and Love and City Delights, engage with the support available to them at UKTI, work with our specialist advisers and help us meet our national target of 100,000 new exporters in the next five years. The first step is clear: pick up the phone and call UKTI on 44 (0)20 7215 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our excellent trade advisers and begin your exciting journey towards international success.
Other News from UK Trade & Investment
Latest news about Food industry