UK Food and Drink Firms Eye Export Push

UK Food and Drink Firms Eye Export Push

The UK’s food and drink sector is one of its most thriving. Already the UK’s largest manufacturing sector with an annual turnover of £90 billion and as many as 400,000 workers, the sector is a British success story.

But the emphasis is firmly on the British. Despite the popularity of British ingredients, many smaller food and drink companies have remained focused on the domestic market, reticent to take the leap abroad.

However, as the economic downturn starts to ease, boundaries are becoming more relaxed and companies are looking to export their products and grow their business in emerging and advanced economies.

Keen to capitalise on this curve, the UK Government recently announced a major initiative to encourage more British food and drink firms, particularly small ones, to launch international expansion projects in lucrative overseas markets. Good, ministers say, for businesses, good for the wider economy too.

Untapped Potential

Despite British food and drink’s domestic success, Government figures show that 90% of small firms are not exporting and those that do are primarily targeting Europe.

The Government has unveiled the Food and Drink Action Plan as part of an effort to get small food and drink firms exporting not just to Europe and the US but further afield to places like Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Under the initiative, which the Government claims could deliver an extra £500 million to the economy, companies will be able to access more support and advice on exporting, a faster export certification process and work to lift trade barriers and promote trade in open markets.

“There are huge opportunities for British food companies to export all over the world and I’m determined to help our firms exploit them,” said Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Export Strategies

In a blog post for, Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said research shows around 70% of UK businesses are now looking to overseas markets to further their recovery.

“In present day Austerity Britain, with its slow and fragile recovery, international expansion has many benefits,” he said.

“The UK is an almost saturated marketplace and access to new markets is cited as the primary benefit to expanding abroad. Economic growth will be delivered by SMEs and those that look beyond these shores to market their products and services.”

But for new entrants to the export market, there are a number of barriers to entry and therefore several things they need to think about.

Developing a fully-fledged export, distribution and marketing strategy

It is important that companies have a formal framework to drive their export initiatives.

Developing website content that is accurately localised and translated

Research shows that consumers like to read well-translated, accurate online content. Companies setting up websites for their new markets need to ensure that they offer fluid website content that is readable and well-spelt. It could be something as simple as some static content on how to order a product, or something more sophisticated like an online blog. Whichever – localising your website, getting the content right and talking in the language of the customers you are trying to engage with is crucial.

Understanding any legislative issues in specific countries

While there may be a temptation to rush in gung-ho, it is crucial that firms research any administrative, legislative or tax issues they may need to resolve before they enter new markets.

While the thought of trying to enter far-away markets can seem daunting for UK firms, Government support measures, backed up with effective research and savvy online marketing strategies can make launching products beyond borders a successful venture.

Brands that decide to take the plunge are going to need to ensure that their marketing and advertising campaigns are adapted for local markets. Contact us for advice on consumer product translation.

Written by Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf is Head of Digital at TranslateMedia. He has an interest in how technology can help businesses achieve their marketing objectives. He's been working in digital marketing and web development since 2001 across a wide range of industries and clients.

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