Success on a plate for food and drink firms as global markets link-up goes virtual

September 27, 2020

Food and drink producers from Swindon and its surroundings had the opportunity to meet commercial trade officers working across the world this week at the first-ever virtual Meet the Market Expert event.

Some 80 businesses booked meetings with more than 50 global trade officers representing 40-plus countries. In total more than 450 meetings took place, each offering an exclusive opportunity for a South West company to showcase its products to an overseas market. 

The event was organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) in conjunction with the Great British Food Programme delivered by Business West, the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiaitve and the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The programme aims to connect UK food and drink producers with a host of international buyers hungry to buy high-quality British produce.  

Business West commercial services director James Monk said: “It is events such as these that are increasingly important for businesses to grow and succeed in a difficult economic period.

“We are not ignorant of the fact that businesses that export achieve higher turnover growth, which in turn creates more jobs and opportunities while strengthening the overall economy.

“The South West’s food and drink offering is one of the best in the country and I am confident that new relationships have forged that will increase the region’s reputation and help businesses to thrive over the coming months.”

Among those taking part was Mark Bolton, co-founder of Bristol-based Kate Percy’s, which makes Go Bites energy balls. He said the event had been valuable in many ways.

“It has enabled us to gather information quickly and efficiently so that we can spot which export markets might work for us.

“We were sought out by several advisers who had seen our profile and thought our Kate Percy’s Go Bites could really work well in their home market.

“Tereza from the Czech Republic and Dina from Jordan particularly spring to mind. These were not markets we were actively considering and now we are. A bonus was Dina’s offer to introduce us to Carrefour UK’s export buying team.

“In these strange times when some markets are harder hit than others the ability to stay light on our feet and do business in unexpected areas could mean the difference between thriving and just surviving.”

Another business which found the event beneficial was Yeo Valley, the family owned dairy company based in Blagdon, Somerset.

Its head of business development Jonathan Pratt said: “It was an extremely useful format having all the market experts under one roof.

“Identifying and chasing down leads across different countries can be extremely time consuming so having access to the breadth of contacts the DIT network offers is invaluable.”

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