North exhibited at Food & Hotel China (FHC) on a Northern Powerhouse trade mission, organised as part of the Government’s Food is GREAT campaign, set up to help UK food and drink companies sell overseas.
North Brewing Co director John Gyngell said: “Chinese consumers have a growing thirst for international beer, with Shanghai and Hong Kong in particular developing a taste for overseas independent craft beers.
“Exhibiting at the FHC show with the support of Defra and DIT boosted our confidence in accessing the emerging opportunity we saw in the Chinese market. We attended the show with little idea of what to expect and left with a number of useful contacts and a clear idea of what our next steps should be.”
Exports to 17 countries
Founded in 2015, North saw its turnover rise to £950,000 after it started selling its beers to supermarkets in 2016. Since starting exports to Ireland in April last year, the company now exports to 17 countries.
Gyngell said that the road to exporting to China had not been without its challenges, but the company has had plenty of help along the way.
“We had to accommodate for the extra shipping time and find partners that care about our beers as much as we do. We’ve made sure that our distributors are using cold chain refrigeration throughout their journey from Leeds direct to bars and shops in China.
‘Take the leap’
“But there is support on hand from expert government trade advisers to help businesses overcome these challenges. I would encourage other local food and drink businesses like us to take the leap and sell overseas.”
Mark Robson, the Department for International Trade’s head of Yorkshire and the Humber described North as an excellent example of a firm that was not afraid to take the leap into new markets.
He added: “The latest export figures show that Yorkshire breweries are selling more and more products into China. From just £150,000 in 2012, the region sent £3.98m worth of beverages to China in 2017.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan has given approval for the importing of British pork in a deal that could be worth £50m over five years.