Government chooses food and drink initiative to help drive industry bounce-back overseas

Business West and the Great British Food Programme is leading a coronavirus bounce-back campaign to encourage UK food and drink producers to break into overseas markets for the first time.

The campaign, which was chosen by the government as the centrepiece of its bounce-back strategy for the agriculture, food and drink industry, will see the Great British Food Programme send food and drink hampers full of great British delicacies all over the world.

COVID-19 has meant that the companies the programme supports cannot visit countries to promote British food and drink, so they came up with the trial and buy idea with the hampers.

The Great British Food Programme and Business West are producing 120 hampers initially to go to buyers around the world with the first being sent to Dubai.

This first export food hamper to Dubai includes product from Mr Lees Noodles Co in Bournemouth, as well as other producers from around the UK.

The spirits hamper, which is heading to a major importer in Mexico, contains 24 miniatures made up of samples from Southwestern Distillery in Wadebridge, Capreolus Distillery in Cirencester, Black Cow in Beaminster and 6 O’Clock Gin from Thornbury, along with others from the East Midlands, North West and Scotland.

Paul Abley of the Department of International Trade and the Great British Food Programme worked to develop the innovative box idea with their team of food and drink experts.

He said: “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.”

Once the prospective buyer is known to have received the hamper, each company from the UK in that hamper will have the opportunity of presenting to them in a call with the buyer.

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 coming online now with Japan wanting ten hampers, India 15, Hong Kong 8 and Canada 7, with others evaluating their requirements.

“These hampers are just like a trade show without the personal contact due to coronavirus”, commented Paul Abley.

“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”.

Food and drink exports were worth £23.7 billion last year-up almost 5% from 2018.