Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Welsh food and drink industry has embraced the opportunity to innovate and change with international trade events and visits being replaced by virtual trade missions to countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
The Welsh Government’s Food & Drink Wales held a virtual Trade Development Visit for members of the Food & Drink Wales Export Club in June, all looking to develop and strengthen business, trade and export links in Australia and New Zealand.
Six Welsh food and drink companies who had the opportunity to meet with prospective buyers, distributors and importers via video link, have since had positive feedback, and secured business opportunities.
Organic sea salt company Halen Môn – Anglesey Sea Salt Company has secured listings with specialty food wholesaler Deluxe Foods on pretty much their whole range from 100g pouches, gift sets and sachets, to smoked water and ketchups.
Deluxe Foods sell to the food service and retail market sectors throughout Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and as far north as Cairns, down to Grafton and out west to regional Queensland.
Alison Lea-Wilson, director of Halen Môn is delighted with this new business, saying,
“After a number of meetings with potential distributors and importers we settled on Deluxe Foods. They were familiar with our brand and products, and even Anglesey, as the buyer came originally from Cheshire.
“They placed an order which is due to land any day now and we have plans to hold virtual tastings with their sales team as well as cooperating on social media and other marketing campaigns.
“We are so grateful to the Welsh Government for financing this programme, and to BIC and their partners in Australia for all their support which made this possible.”
South Wales based Brand Hatchers have started a partnership with privately owned Australian company Kadac who specialises in organic, natural and health products for their natural chewing gum brand, Nopla. Nopla is a plastic free, biodegradable chewing gum which is plant based with a natural sweetener and essential oil flavouring.
Emily Howarth, Managing Director for Brand Hatchers said,
“We have just received our first order and will be launching in Australia in March 2021.
“We are thrilled to be working with Kadac and have a great plan in place to build Nopla into Australia’s #1 mainstream alternative chewing gum over the next few years.”
The six Welsh companies involved in the virtual Trade Development Visit were Brand Hatchers Ltd, The Anglesey Sea Salt Company-Halen Mon, Wholebake/9Brand Foods, Purple Moose Brewery Ltd, Penderyn Distillery and Volac International Ltd. The programme was targeted at more experienced exporters and companies who could devote time and resources needed to be successful in this market.
Another company progressing well with a potential first deal to Australia is protein and vegan snack bars company 9Brand Foods, based in Corwen.
Daniel Rush, International Sales Manager at 9Brand Foods said,
“The preparation for the companies taking part in the virtual Trade Development Visit was amazing, with market presentations from two different distributors in the market as well as a general market overview from Foleys.
“In total I had meetings with 6 different prospective partners in the market all giving very different options to us customers. However, we are now close to securing a deal and expected to ship our first order into Australia late February/early March.
“The Welsh Government support for these types of visits is unfailing and crucial to our success in exporting.”
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths believes that with Wales’ reputation and provenance, there is a strong platform for further growth that can benefit everyone,
“This is a wonderful way for many of our food and drink companies to showcase their products and capabilities, whilst sharing information in a format that is suited to the current climate.
“In these challenging times where long distance travel is not a viable option, a virtual trade mission is a great opportunity to highlight their products to international audiences during the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
The virtual Trade Development Visit was a unique opportunity for producers to meet via video conference facilities, prospective Australia and New Zealand based buyers, distributors and importers without having to commit significant time and financial resources that a full Trade Development Visit entails.