Founded by spice trader Gerald McDonald in 1917, the business is now managed by his grandson Gerald and great-grandson Maxim.
From the company's headquarters in Basildon, its juices are exported to more than 20 countries, with international sales accounting for 20% of its £27m average annual turnover.
This latest Japanese deal was secured after the Department for International Trade (DIT) helped the company to attend trade shows and meetings in Japan, where it met new customers. In 2016, Gerald McDonald opened an office in Kobe and DIT is providing advice on trademark registration in the country.
“We are proud to be a British family business and to keep the legacy of my great-grandfather going," said Gerald McDonald marketing director Maxim McDonald.
Japan 'biggest exporting step'
“Japan has been our biggest exporting step; it is an exciting market and our future focus. It is going to be big for our business and we are in the process of developing our website for future online sales in Japan.”
Gerald McDonald also exports its Japanese Yuzu juice outside of Japan and creates bespoke juice mixes at its headquartered blending facility.
On 11 September, international trade secretary Liz Truss announced an agreement in principle of the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the UK’s first post-Brexit free trade agreement.
East of England exporters of food and drink, which were worth over £33m to Japan last year stand to benefit from reductions in tariffs and red tape as part of this deal.
Trade deal with Japan
“The trade deal we signed with Japan was a historic moment and will offer tariff-free trade on 99% of UK exports to Japan, creating new opportunities for people in the East of England and helping level up the whole country," said secretary of state for international trade Liz Truss.
“It will help businesses like Gerald McDonald sell more of their fantastic produce to the world’s third largest economy and encourage more of our small companies do the same.
“More trade and investment is crucial to overcoming the economic challenges of coronavirus and supporting UK jobs.”
The UK also plans to become a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which will open up 11 key pacific markets for UK exporters, reducing tariffs for UK business (95% of goods traded between members are tariff-free).