Sheppy's Cider sets sights overseas

Award-winning Sheppy’s Cider is aiming to more than double its exporting sales this year after securing six new international contracts in the past 12 months.

The Taunton-based cider maker has been in operation for more than 200 years and is a sixth-generation family business. The firm supplies its range of bottles, cans and kegs to independent retailers, brewers and pub groups across the UK, as well as to 10 countries including Singapore, Germany and Japan.

Exporting currently accounts for 4% of the company’s annual turnover and the company is looking to grow this to 10% before the end of 2018. Most recently, the business secured a new contract in Estonia that will see it ship seven of its award-winning ciders to the country.

The business has received support from advisers at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) to help it explore international markets. DIT advisers based in the South West put Sheppy’s Cider in touch with Embassy staff in several countries to source accurate market information.

The support is 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.

Melanie Timmins, Head of Sales at Sheppy’s Cider, said:

“We first started exporting our products in 2012 and since then, we’ve established our brand in 10 countries worldwide. This year, we will start exporting to new markets like Estonia and India, and we’re receiving new requests from different countries weekly, making now the right time to focus on our exporting operations. 

“We pride ourselves on using the same methods of production used generations ago and some of our oak vats have been in use for more than 100 years. While we use a lot of modern technology too, our traditional methods are what makes our brand so popular, both in the UK and overseas. 

“However, no export venture is without its challenges. We found that identifying ideal buyers can be problematic, which is why we have involved DIT at a very early stage as another pair of eyes to confirm if prospects would be beneficial for us. 

“Exporting has been vital in helping to grow our business, particularly as it irons out the seasonality of our sales. The Southern hemisphere’s seasons are the opposite of ours, meaning we get year-round demand for a refreshing chilled cider. 

“I’d urge any company looking to export to seek the advice of professionals like DIT early on. If we can do it, so can many other local firms.” 

Paul Shand, South West Regional Director for the Department for International Trade, said:

“The South West has a rich heritage in cider and ale, and it’s encouraging to see a local Taunton-based brand harnessing the success that international trade can bring.

“Sheppy’s Cider has set a great example to local firms looking to either export for the first time or to grow their international footprint. But businesses shouldn’t feel like they have to go it alone, particularly when factors such as tax, language and capacity can be a concern for many. 

“At DIT, we have International Trade Advisers based here in the South West that are on hand to support firms as they navigate new international markets.”

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