Salcombe Distilling Company is gearing up for trade with China after returning from a successful trade mission to the country.
The company completed its first international orders to Belgium in December and to Spain in January. The business has now set its sights to China as a key part of its strategic international expansion plans.
The business went on a trade mission to China with support from advisers at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Department for International Trade (DIT) to help establish the brand with potential Chinese buyers and customers.
The firm exhibited at Food & Hotel China (FHC), a major tradeshow for the country’s food and drink industry. The mission to FHC was part of the Food is GREAT campaign, the UK Government’s cross department initiative to showcase UK food and drink overseas and to help firms to export.
The South West distiller established the award winning gin brand Salcombe Gin in 2016 and has gone from strength to strength picking up many of the top international accolades for its super smooth gin. The company also runs a ‘Gin School’ where adults can learn how to distil their own gin.
Angus Lugsdin, co-founder of Salcombe Gin, said:
“While the demand for British food, drink and luxury goods is booming in China, gin remains a relatively untapped market. Chinese consumers prefer dark imported spirits, with whisky and brandy being the most popular and many people we spoke to at FHC had never tried gin before.
“Alcohol regulation is incredibly strict in East Asia, particularly when you’re trying to export a product like gin that isn’t well-known among consumers. These were two of our biggest barriers – strict regulations and lack of product awareness - which is why we rigorously researched ingredient regulations and the support available before tapping into the Chinese market.
“Attending FHC was instrumental in getting our gin in front of Chinese buyers, with the opportunity to exhibit coming through our local government trade adviser. We’re currently in the negotiation stages with a potential Chinese buyer, but it hasn’t been without its challenges to get to this point.
“We were advised to protect our intellectual property rights to ensure our product wasn’t duplicated before we’d even stepped foot in China, as the protection of intellectual property in China works differently to the UK There was also some admin and paperwork to complete before attending the trade mission - but it was worth it.
“Seeking expert guidance is key in navigating the process and there’s a lot of support out there. If we can do it, so can many other local firms like us.”
Paul Shand, South West Regional Director, Department for International Trade, said:
“The opportunity in East Asia is growing at a rapid pace and last year food and drink exports to China from the South West increased by 260%. It’s encouraging to see locally loved brands like Salcombe Gin tapping into this.
“UK food and drink firms exported over £439m worth of produce to China in 2016, and by the first half of 2017 China was the ninth largest export market for UK businesses. However, while the opportunity is there, the Chinese market isn’t without its complexities: language, multiple time zones and tax regulations are just some, to name but a few.
“However, businesses don’t need to go it alone. That’s why we have International Trade Advisers based across the South West on hand to support firms in navigating new territories.”
How to get started
To gain access to an experienced International Trade Adviser, who will act as your export guide and give you the confidence to explore or expand in overseas markets, simply contact our International Trade Centre today.
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