East of England food and drink sector in drive to export more to China
PUBLISHED: 12:43 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:44 12 December 2016
A drive to introduce East Anglian food and drink to China's fast-growing middle class continued this month as industry leaders met to exchange ideas.
A LinksEast forum, hosted by regional retailer the East of England Co-op at its headquarters at Wherstead, near Ipswich, brought together some of the region’s big-hitters, including Essex jam-maker Wilkin & Son, malt firm Muntons, and Hillfarm Oils.
They were there to discuss how to open up markets in the country, and to hear from firms which were already successfully exporting.
The event included representatives from the Sizewell C project, the Department of International Trade and Anglia Farmers, and Lady Clare Euston, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, and Mark Pendlington, chairman, of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) gave their support to the event.
LinksEast.com is involved in setting up a series of round table discussions at the House of Lords where invited guests can meet with representatives of the UK and Chinese governments to discuss export markets. Its aim is to foster trading links with China and open up markets to the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises.
“The Forum forms the foundation for the East Anglian business community of a ‘self-help’ exchange of knowledge and idea dialogues, with local meetings across the region,” explained LinksEast director Annie Eaves.
Wilkin & Son, based at Tiptree, gave an insight into how it has successfully exported to China, opening several tearooms.
Bradley Adnams, of Southwold brewers Adnams said the LinksEast events were “a real opportunity” to meet with other regional businesses, and discuss the success they are experiencing as well as any challenges they may face when forging supplier relationships.
“LinksEast is really supporting producers from East Anglia and helping Adnams to broaden our export market in China,” he said.
“It’s great that they are championing the fantastic food and drink that is produced in the region – including our own beers, wines and spirits – and firmly putting us on the map as quality international suppliers.
“We’ve found it really useful to be able to learn from collective experience and share best practice in order to develop stronger business connections.”
Chris Cotton, director of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), said his organisation was working with LinksEast to highlight the opportunities for regional business to grow their business in China against a background of economic uncertainty.
“Following the outcome of the EU referendum, CBBC and the British Chamber of Commerce in China (BritCham) remain confident about the prospects for the UK-China trade and investment relationship,” he said.
“There is no change to the fact that tremendous opportunities exist for UK companies across China in a wide range of sectors and the UK also remains a welcoming destination for Chinese investment.
“Despite the current uncertainties, CBBC will continue to share our positive outlook on UK-China trade and investment and will continue to draw on more than 60 years of experience supporting UK-China trade by offering the relevant practical advice, networking and support that the British companies value.”
Conan Busby, head of cargo and business aviation at London Stansted Airport, said the airport fully supported the drive to develop East Anglia’s exports into China and welcomed the increased use of new direct and indirect air cargo links with it through airlines including China Southern and Qatar Airways.
“Use of London Stansted can reduce delivery times by 24 hours through its close proximity to East Anglia rather than relying on Heathrow as a gateway,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with LinksEast to ensure that more local companies can benefit from using their local airport.”