With Brexit looming, British chocolate firms are being encouraged to seize the opportunity of growing demand for their chocolate around the world.
Ian Harrison, Head of Exports for the Midlands at the Department for International Trade, has called for businesses to be prepared and take steps to overcome any hurdles they may encounter along the way.
Chocolate consumption in the UK is now higher than any other country per capita, according to research from consumer group Mintel.
“This is hardly surprising when you consider the rich heritage of British chocolate manufacturing, from large brands like Cadbury to artisanal brands like Seed & Bean, there is a wealth of quality chocolate and chocolate products coming from our shores,” Mr Harrison said.
Chocolate demand is growing around the world too, with British chocolate exports increasing by 84 per cent since 2010, reaching sales of £680 million last year alone.
With the rise in global demand for Britain’s chocolate industry, now is the time for local companies to capitalise on their reputation abroad, Mr Harrison believes.
Developing overseas revenue streams often boosts profitability, leads to more diverse customer bases and builds organisational resilience – Seed & Bean is a good example, and has turned to exporting to boost its business and profitability.
The Northampton-based business distributes flavoured organic chocolate to 22 countries, including Japan, Australia, Sweden and The Netherlands. It has just secured a contract to launch its range in France for the first time, supplying more than 200 La Vie Claire shops, a chain of premium confectionery stores in France, with its chocolate.
The win follows Seed & Bean’s attendance at the BIOFACH organic trade fair, where the team networked with stockists from across the world.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) recommended the four-day exhibition, hosted in Nuremberg, Germany, as a great opportunity for the business to meet overseas buyers. DIT supported with logistics and provided funding to make the trip to Nuremberg a reality.
The international success of Seed & Bean is being celebrated as part of the Department for International Trade (DIT)’s Exporting is GREAT campaign. The campaign showcases UK businesses from a range of sectors and regions to inspire and support firms up and down the country to export.
However, there are some important steps that firms need to take to ensure they can overcome barriers they may face along the way.
Differing legal requirements for food companies can include needing to ensure all ingredients are permitted in the target market, checking the product meets local food safety requirements and labelling standards, and considering associated import costs.
In major markets like China – where limited domestic production means chocolate is mostly imported from foreign suppliers – and the US, there are specific requirements for food labelling that differ from the UK.
For example, according to the Food Labelling Standards of China, imported foods labelling should always indicate Chinese standards have been used. Labels must clearly indicate country of origin of the product and the name and address of the Chinese distributor.
In the US, labels must meet federal and state regulations, product regulations, as well as meet safety standards and acts. Additionally, states or local jurisdictions have introduced regulations around the use and disposal of certain packaging materials and have set minimum recycling requirements.
It is also important for businesses to seek out the right opportunities, by conducting thorough market research to ensure buyers are the right fit.
“Nothing beats visiting a potential market in person to get a feel for the business culture and to meet reliable international logistics providers and sales representatives face to face – both vital ingredients for a successful exporting strategy,” Mr Harrison said.
“DIT is on hand to help a business on any part of its export journey to provide the right knowledge and skills to support firms achieve their export ambitions. Through our network of International Trade Advisers (ITAs), we have support ranging from conducting market research tours to navigating cultural and language barriers.”
Companies who want to find out more about exporting should call their local DIT office to organise an initial conversation with an ITA or visit great.gov.uk.
“The demand is out there, and the support is on hand to help British companies make the most of it,” Mr Harrison concluded.