On Tuesday 22 September food and drink producers from South West England met global Commercial Trade Officers at the first-ever virtual Meet the Market Expert event as part of the levelling up activity in the region in partnership with LEPs.
The event was organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) in conjunction with the Great British Food Programme delivered by Business West.
The Great British Food programme aims to connect UK food and drink producers with a host of international buyers hungry to buy high quality British produce.
The event offered an exclusive opportunity for South West companies to showcase their products to overseas markets. A total of 80 companies booked meetings with over 50 global Trade Officers representing over 40 countries, totalling in over 450 meetings across the day.
Mark Bolton, co-founder of Kate Percy’s, producer of energy balls, attended the event. Commenting on the day he said:
“Today’s Meet the Market experts has been valuable in so many ways. It has enabled us to gather information quickly and efficiently so that we can spot which export markets might work for us.
“We were sought out by several advisers who had seen our profile and thought our Kate Percy’s Go Bites could really work well in their home market. Tereza from the Czech Republic and Dina from Jordan particularly spring to mind. These were not markets we were actively considering and now we are. A bonus was Dina’s offer to introduce us to Carrefour UK’s export buying team.
“In these strange times when some markets are harder hit than others the ability to stay light on our feet and do business in unexpected areas could mean the difference between thriving and just surviving.”
Yeo Valley, South West family owned dairy company were also keen to share their positive experience. With the maximum of eight meetings booked, they had the opportunity to meet Trade Officers from a range of markets. Jonathan Pratt Head of Business Development at Yeo Valley said:
“It was an extremely useful format having all the market experts under one roof. Identifying and chasing down leads across different countries can be extremely time consuming so having access to the breadth of contacts the DIT network offers is invaluable.”
Alex Hybs, director of Stute Foods said the format of the event made forming relationships with the Trade Officers easier than usual: “A highlight of the event was being able to hold face to face meetings (albeit virtually) with experts from across the world from the comfort of our office.
“We were able to have in-depth conversations that would not be possible via a phone call or email.”
James Monk, Commercial Services Director at Business West said: “It is events such as these that are increasingly important for businesses to grow and succeed in a difficult economic period. We are not ignorant of the fact that businesses who export achieve higher turnover growth, which in turn creates more jobs and opportunities while strengthening the overall economy.
“The South West’s food and drink offering is one of the best in the country and I am confident that new relationships have forged that will increase the region’s reputation and help businesses to thrive over the coming months.”