Fast-Track Programme launched to help food and drink producers go global

A new fast-track programme that will help food and drink producers from across the West Midlands to sell their goods overseas is being launched officially this week.

As British Food Fortnight begins (17 September 2016), the Department for International Trade West Midlands is redoubling its efforts to encourage inexperienced or new exporters across the region to expand their global reach with a one-stop shop for advice and support.

Christine Hamilton, interim regional director of the Department for International Trade West Midlands, described the fast-track programme as a structured, flexible plan that is designed to provide all the help and training that businesses need.

She said:

“We are very excited to launch this unique initiative within the West Midlands. There are already hundreds of very successful businesses in the region who export their food and drink goods across the globe, yet we know there are hundreds more whose businesses have the potential to grow if they took the next step and began exporting. This service is for them.

“The programme is designed specifically to provide food and drink producers with one point of access to expert assistance for all export-related issues and a fast track to sales opportunities and buyers from around the globe.

“Anyone who signs up will be assigned a dedicated international trade adviser, who will provide as much support as is needed to help make their export venture a success.”

International trade advisers (ITAs) will be on hand to highlight the best opportunities to pursue and introduce businesses to the right contacts; help plan marketing activity; and provide advice on intellectual property, import tariffs, documentation and trading regulations. Businesses will also have the opportunity to participate in masterclasses and have access to online training tools that will all support them in their exporting ambitions.

According to the Food & Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), the UK’s total food and drink export sales in 2015 were £12.3bn, with Ireland, France, Netherlands, Germany and Spain in the top five export markets, with the ten biggest exports being: chocolate, salmon, cheese, beef, sweet biscuits, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, vegetables, chicken, and sauces/condiments.

The Department’s Export Opportunities website lists the live opportunities across all sectors and at the moment there are more than 150 opportunities – from a request for peanut butter in the Czech Republic and bakery goods in Poland to organic curry pastes in Japan and beer in Argentina.

Christine added:

“We recently took a group of international buyers to the Ludlow Food Festival and organised a special food and drink event in Staffordshire and they were impressed by the range of products on offer. It’s clear that British goods are sought after and these events confirmed that even the smallest producers can look to exporting opportunities.”