Trade mission seeks to capitalise on demand for Yorkshire food

Growing demand for British food and drink products in China is making the sector one of the UK's most significant export markets, a Government minister has claimed.

Following a trade mission to China of some 23 British firms, including several from Yorkshire, David Rutley said that exports of UK food and drink had doubled in the past three years and that he expected this growth to continue.

Yorkshire & the Humber exports of food and drink to China have grown from £10.5 million in 2015 to £30.8 million in 2017.

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Five food and drink firms from across Yorkshire embarked on the mission to Shanghai, seeking to secure export opportunities at China’s largest trade show for the food and hospitality industry.

Taylors of Harrogate, exhibited at Food Hotel China (FHC) under the Northern Powerhouse banner while oher firms from the region exhibiting at the show include confectionary distributor Crème d’Or, smoked meat specialists Bleiker’s, distillers Harrogate Tipple, and microbrewery Cold Bath Brewing Co.

Last year, Yorkshire brewers Baijiu Beer Co and Northern Brew Co each returned to the UK with five figure deals to supply Chinese distributors, after exhibiting their products in a special pavilion showcasing British brewers.

Mr Rutley said: “From Scottish salmon and whisky, to tea, pork and beer, UK exports of food and drink to China have more than doubled in the past 3 years, making it one of our most significant export markets, worth over £564 million.

“This is great news for our food and drink industry, but as the appetite for quality British produce continues to grow across the globe I want to see even more trade, and collaboration on agri-technology, innovation and skills, between China and the UK.

“With the help available from the cross-government Food is GREAT campaign, UK companies have brilliant opportunities to expand their businesses by exporting to increasingly valuable markets such as China.”

The mission was organised as part of the Food is GREAT campaign – the UK government’s cross department initiative to showcase food and drink overseas by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Defra hosted an exclusive event at the show where 50 companies exhibited products to 300 attendees, including Chinese distributors and e-commerce buyers, industry buyers for hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, key opinion leaders and representatives from Chinese trade media and associations.

Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, was in Shanghai for the China International Import Expo (CIIE) last week, where he led a UK delegation which included more than 50 UK firms, from huge global brands like British Airways and HSBC to cutting edge tech firms like Mi Hiepa Sports, to showcase the very best of what we have to offer to Chinese consumers and businesses.

Mark Robson, Head, UK Regions – Yorkshire and Humber, at the Department for International Trade, said: “China being the world’s biggest grocery market presents an excellent opportunity for our region’s food and drink producers.

“Feedback from visitors at the show also proved how British brands are highly-regarded by Chinese consumers, who see our food and drink products as high-quality and safe.

“Delegates on the trade mission had the opportunity to get a real flavour for what doing business in China is all about, from understanding different business cultures, to finding potential buyers and distributors.

“We’re excited to see what deals will come to fruition in the coming months as our team of International Trade Advisers work alongside the firms in starting, or growing, their inroads to China.”