Business West launches online store to help South West food and drink firms break into Chinese market

Author
Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
27th May 2021

The Great British Food store, an initiative developed by Business West, is supporting 14 companies from the South West to sell their products on China’s largest social media platform, WeChat.

The store aims to connect UK food and drink producers with a host of Chinese buyers and consumers who are hungry to buy high quality British produce. 

The store is already selling a range of products from 20 leading UK food and drink brands on WeChat which has a user based of 1.2 billion people. 

A report published by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), showed that in 2020, while exports of food and drink fell for the first time since 2015, exports to China grew by 0.3%.

Research from The Economist Intelligence Unit shows that China is the world’s largest e-Commerce market and will more than double in size over the next five years. 

Lex Thornley, co-founder of Blue Goose, an eco-friendly coffee pod manufacturer based in Exeter in Devon said:

“We are very small in terms of our capabilities—there are only two of us. So, to smash the UK market is one thing, let alone go into China.

“Business West have created a fantastic opportunity for us where they’re taking the lead not only with generating sales but also helping us to navigate WeChat.”

Chris Lilley, co-founder of Lilley’s Cider, a family run business in Frome, Somerset said:

“It is a market we have been actively looking at for some years with no avail. 

“So, with the help of the WeChat Campaign, we are excited to see how we can break into the Chinese market and hope it helps us bring our passion of Cider and Perries to the Chinese market.”

Mark Taylor, Managing Director of Filberts Fine Foods based in Glastonbury, Somerset said:

“The activity and exposure provided by working with WeChat programme is great for the brand and business. It made a great of common sense to become involved early on.

“Business West have been the conduit to rapid export exposure and sales growth and their professionalism and knowledge base are a valuable asset for any business thinking about export.”

The goods have been shipped to China and re-labelled in Chinese by Elanders UK of North Tyneside, an international logistics group with 11 operations in China. 

They are then stored at an Elanders bonded warehouse in Shanghai, enabling Chinese customers to browse the online WeChat store and have orders delivered to their homes within 24 hours.

James Monk, commercial director of Business West, commented:

“Lots of companies have recognised that China is a great sales opportunity for them.

“The rapidly expanding middle classes there are ripe as an audience for quality UK food and drink products.

“China is not an easy market to access, but we have taken apart the entire supply and transit chain to find a solution to make it viable for smaller companies like Lilley’s Cider, Blue Goose and Great British Biscotti to begin trading with China.”

Elanders managing director, Kevin Rogers said: 

“This Cross-Border- E-Commerce solution offers the simplest model for UK brands to sell to 

Chinese consumers and expand their export footprint.

“As the Chinese travel, they get a taste and palate for foreign goods, and they have a really good affinity with the UK.

“They see British products as having heritage and high quality. 

“This initiative by Business West is right on the money because e-commerce in China is massive. They buy everything online and WeChat is a very powerful tool.”

  • Find out about the WeChat store we're launching!

    Find out about the WeChat Mini Program that will be showcasing the UK's very best food & drink producers to Chinese consumers, the Great British Food Store.

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  • Find out about the WeChat store we're launching!

    Find out about the WeChat Mini Program that will be showcasing the UK's very best food & drink producers to Chinese consumers, the Great British Food Store.