A brewery based in Stroud is exporting to Japan with its organic beer made using sustainably produced malt. Since it started exporting to Japan in 2017 its exports have grown by 50%.
Founder of Stroud Brewery, Greg Pilley, set up the brewery in 2006 after deciding to channel his passion for beer and the environment into setting up a business producing organic beer.
Greg said: “I always had an interest in local food and local provenance. I really wanted to have sustainability at the heart of the business, so the focus has always been on the local sourcing of our main ingredient, malt, and organic brewing.”
Greg was first introduced to exporting by DIT (Department for International Trade) several years ago, when he took part in the Passport to Export programme. With DIT’s support he also attended a trade visit to Sweden resulting in successful, regular orders to the market.
The company began exporting to Japan through a connection in the organic world. One of the suppliers on the farm which grows the malt has a connection with an organisation in Japan named Shumei who wanted to sell beer made using the malt. Shumei is a value based cooperative group which holds a strong set of sustainable values around agriculture and food products.
The duchy farm that produces the malt has a heritage variety of barley with very low intervention which also appealed to this Japanese distributor. Stroud Brewery has been making a lager out of this pale malt for the last four years and selling beer to Japan ever since.
The Food and Drink Federation reported that in the third quarter of 2020, beer was in the top ten exports to Japan.
“The support from DIT has largely been around helping us develop the confidence to export through market research, creating a great avenue for growth. DIT has also helped us understand the regulations around duty movement, how to export and duty suspense.”
According to Greg, the vital contributor to the company's success has been having the relationship with Shumei, who also own a Japanese contingency based in Wiltshire who facilitated the whole export process. “They knew the language, translated labels, and worked with customs who are very precise and check every detail.
“We were fortunate that Shumei facilitated that process to get our products through customs without issues.”
Greg’s advice to other companies looking to export to Japan is to work on finding a distributor and focus on building a strong relationship with them. This can take time but in Stroud Brewery’s case the connection was already there:
“If I didn’t have that trading partner it would be a completely different situation. You need an agent or distributor to enable the export process. My advice would be to get in touch with DIT who have a network of contacts in the UK and overseas who may be able to support you in that area.”
Get in touch
To discuss your own export options with one of DIT’s International Trade Advisers in the South West contact 01275 774 456 or visit www.great.gov.uk to find out more about the range of support available as well as live export opportunities. DIT’s services in the South West are delivered by Business West. For further information, click here.