Business West initiative selected to help UK food and drink firms bounce back by selling overseas

July 2, 2020

A coronavirus business bounce-back campaign to encourage UK food and drink producers to break into overseas markets is being spearheaded by the South West’s largest business organisation.

Hampers full of British artisan food and drink are being sent all over the world as part of the Business West-led campaign, which was chosen by government as the centrepiece of its bounce-back strategy for the industry. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that traditional trade missions by for food and drink firms to targeted countries cannot take place. So Business West, which runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, came up with a trial-and-buy idea using hampers – with an initial batch of 120 being sent to buyers around the world.

The first hampers, which have gone to Dubai, include products such as those from Bournemouth-based Mr Lees Noodles Co, as well as products from around the UK.

A hamper containing spirits is heading to a major importer in Mexico containing 24 miniatures made up of samples from Thornbury’s 6 O’Clock Gin, Capreolus Distillery in Cirencester, South Western Distillery in Cornwall and Black Cow from Dorset along with others from the East Midlands, North West and Scotland.

Business West worked closely with for the Department of International Trade (DIT) to develop the innovative box idea with its team of food and drink experts.

DIT international innovation & delivery manager Paul Abley said: “These hampers are just like a trade show without the personal contact due to coronavirus”, commented.

“It is unlikely we are going to be seeing any major food and drink shows anywhere until early next year, so this is the next best thing to promote the best of British food and drink by actually putting these hampers in the hands of buyers all over the world.”

“Our team in Dubai has engaged with buyers to review the 400 companies on our Great British Food Programme directory, and asked them to select the products that they are interested in. 

“They then go in the hamper and are shipped to the buyer for maximum response. We are building hampers specific to buyer requests.”

Each company with a product included in the campaign has the opportunity to pitch to the prospective the buyer by phone after they have received their hamper.

Paul Abley added: “Each company whose products are featured in these hampers could well generate an additional £100,000 a year in business at what is a vital time for companies seeking to trade through coronavirus successfully and by so doing help the British economy recover.”

Other overseas markets are now joining the campaign, with prospective buyers in Japan asking for 10 hampers, India 15, Hong Kong eight and Canada seven. A number of others are evaluating their requirements.

Business West has previously developed a Great British Food Programme directory with 400 national food and drink suppliers.

UK food and drink exports were worth £23.7bn last year – up almost 5% on 2018.



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