Exporting produce around the world can seem daunting. With an increasing emphasis on high-value export markets, Alex Black looks at the global opportunities for UK farming.
British food is in demand around the world but getting a foot in the door of these markets can seem intimidating for smaller food and farming businesses who do not know where to start.
Food and drink exports reached £22.6 billion last year, with the industry looking to open up even more export markets.
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said exports offered a ‘world of opportunity for producers and processors’ in the UK.
“And as Brexit draws closer, we are hearing more about the prospects new markets present for British food and farming products,” he said.
But he warned it was not without challenges. The number-one lesson he had learned from working to gain market access and increase exports around the world was all about preparation.
“The time spent planning, researching, sourcing advice and information about your chosen market and putting together a full business plan, will prove vital to your ongoing success,” Dr Hadley said.
He acknowledged taking the plunge could be ‘incredibly daunting’.
“But taking that step into the unknown can bring a wealth of opportunities, whether you are a pork producer or a potato farmer,” he said.
He added the levy body had been working with processors, growers and the industry to achieve the best results and the AHDB website had information on new market access, networking opportunities at trade shows and exhibitions, and consumer research.
Dr Hadley said: “We have so many incredible businesses in the UK which offer high quality pro-duce which will prove valuable in new markets, they just need the knowledge and confidence to carry out this journey and this is an area where AHDB can be of great help.”
Welsh meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) market development manager Rhys Llywelyn said: “As we know from past years when an unfavourable exchange rate or other problems have hit red meat exports, there is a direct link between export success and market prices for farmers.
“Exports are particularly important for Welsh Lamb. We sell more than a third of our crop abroad and this trade is often in cuts which find less favour in the domestic market.”
Welsh produce was in demand in many countries and Mr Llwelyn said HCC had spent many years building a reputation for quality and traceability.
“Our largest markets are in Western Europe and Scandinavia, but there are also opportunities in Canada, the Middle East and some parts of Asia, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
“Most of Wales’ exports are in cuts and carcases of fresh beef and lamb for retail and foodservice clients. But HCC works with specialist companies too, who may find opportunities in niche markets for value-added products.”
AHDB’S ADVICE ON PLANNING TO EXPORT
AHDB offered its advice for farming businesses looking to take the leap into exporting.
1. Review your business and its potential for growth
2. Develop an action plan
3. Look at countries which fit the remit
4. Research your target country’s market
5. Test the market in your chosen country
6. Understand the challenges to your exports
Failure to take account of differences in culture can lead to damaging and costly mistakes.
7. Seek support and advice on progressing
■ Gaining advice is key to exporting successfully with many organisations able to offer advice
■ The UKTI, AHDB and Britain’s embassies can all give insights into useful connections, regulations and demand
8. Start your venture small and plan to grow
■ Do not aim too high
■ It can be tempting to look at multiple markets to export, but it was better to start small and build the export business over time
9. Do everything you can to ensure you get paid
■ Non-payment is a risk
■ Carry out credit checks on potential clients and guard against non-payment through letters of credit or credit insurance
10. Be patient with your growth plans
■ It takes time to build a successful overseas business, so be patient and appreciate issues such as customs could slow down the process