World Vegan Month: The South West exporters helping Veganism go global

Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
27th November 2020

World vegan month takes place once a year in November across the globe with the aim of recognising and celebrating the positive effect plant-based living can have on people, the planet, and animals.

Veganism has grown in popularity in recent years, with The Vegan Society reporting that in the UK, the number of people with plant-based diets has quadrupled from 2014 to 2019. 

There is also clear global interest in veganism, with search data from Google Trends showing a significant increase in worldwide searches of the topic from 2004 to 2018.

The vegan food market value is expected to reach US $25.3 billion, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 8% from 2020-2025. This presents a huge opportunity for UK producers looking to grow their business through exporting. 

Here are two companies taking advantage of the global demand for vegan products. 

Pure Maple’s export story

Pure Maple was founded by Rob Ward in 2014 when he saw a demand in the UK for quality maple syrup and realised “a lot of supermarket maple syrup wasn’t that pure.” 

The completely natural manufacturing process the company carries out has, Rob says, been attractive to vegan buyers across the world who want to appeal to customers who are conscious of the food they consume. 

Through working with the Department for International Trade (DIT), the company has now successfully expanded into South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. A huge number of buyers are those looking for vegan alternatives, with the Middle East being their second largest market.

Rob says:

“through the invaluable support from DIT who have helped us understand how to approach overseas markets, we have now managed three successful orders to Korea.”

He says that an online course on growing your digital presence hosted by the DIT has been “invaluable” during COVID-19 as more consumers are now online. As a result of the boost to their online presence, the company has now received a stream of enquiries from the US. 

The company’s attention has also recently been turned to Chile and Mexico through DIT’s Virtual Business Forums. This key part of the DIT South West’s trade recovery support, will support companies to expand their sales in Latin America.

Veganism has risen in recent years in both Mexico and Chile, with reports stating that Mexico has the largest amount of Vegans in Latin America, while Chile’s Environmental Survey found in 2018 that 75% of respondents would reduce their meat intake to mitigate the environmental impact. 

When asked about the advice he would give to companies looking to export he said:

“You’ve got to get yourself known and if you’ve got a problem then go to the DIT – that’s what good about them, they’re there if you need it. 

“I’ve found the DIT really proactive. Hilary Charman my International Trade Advisor (ITA) has been really involved and there has been lots of communication. I’m amazed that a lot of companies aren’t doing more.”

Kate Percy’s export story

Kate Percy’s, creator of vegan Go Bites (energy balls), was founded in 2000 when Kate Bolton saw a need for her husband Mark to have a healthy source of energy when preparing for marathons. 

They launched at Food Matters Live in 2016 and met Paul Abley, who introduced them to exporting while noticing their company had a lot of potential. They then signed up to work with an adviser at DIT and very shortly began meeting with different buyers from across the world.

Mark says, “DIT has been very supportive of us and through working with them we’re going out to the United Arab Emirates and launching in the Al Maya supermarkets where we’ll be on trial in their stores.”

The company has also received support to optimise their online presence and have recently been approached by an American representative for the Natural Organic Show who came across their product and loved the concept behind it. Kate Percy’s is now one of fifteen companies who have been chosen to pitch to influencers, journalists, retailers, and investors in the US.

Mark says: “We have been very well supported by Barbara Hollyhead our ITA. She has introduced us to American lawyers and a US based importer and has given us a huge amount of advice and market expertise.” 

Through being listed on The Great British Food Store and attending Meet the Market Expert events, the company has also been introduced to a distributor in Saudi Arabia who they have sent several samples to.

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 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 

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