International expansion on the horizon for 18 East Anglian producers

L to R - Dave Steward from NonSuch Shrubs, Nadine Gould from Great Bristish Cake Co and Emma Woolhou

L to R - Dave Steward from NonSuch Shrubs, Nadine Gould from Great Bristish Cake Co and Emma Woolhouse from Breckland Orchard at Horecava. Picture: Lesley van Dijk - Credit: Lesley van Dijk

Food and drink producers from across Norfolk and Suffolk are reaping the rewards of a business mission to the Netherlands, which saw them exhibit at Europe's largest hospitality trade show.

A total of 18 producers travelled to Horecava in Amsterdam earlier this month, having set up initial links at Norfolk's Local Flavours trade show in October.

The companies reported that despite Brexit uncertainty, many had gained 'substantial interest and business leads' at the event.

Those who attended the show were Yare Valley Oils, the Great British Cake Co, Quickfill, Essence, Nonsuch Shrubs, Due Fratelli, Taste of Suffolk, Stokes Sauces, and Bullards Sprits.

Alongside them were Zinger, Sisserou Rum, Black Shuck, Fresh Pod, Shire Foods, Breckland Orchard, Essex Garden Food, Naylor Farms and Food Enterprise Park.

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Russell Evans, managing director at Bullards Spirits, said: 'Gin accounts for more export sales in value from the UK than beef and up until attending Horecava we had not sold a bottle overseas, and we wanted to change this! Since attending we have already signed up a distributor in Holland and will be attending another exhibition in early February with them to sell the Bullards Gin range to their customers.

'We have a number of other excellent opportunities in other countries including Japan that we are working on and would expect export to be a significant income stream for us in 2019 and beyond.

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'It's been a great experience and shown us that the Bullard's story works outside the UK which is what we always believed.'

The trade mission was set up by both the Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, as well as the Department for International trade (DIT), New Anglia LEP and the Lively Crew.

Jason Salter, operations director from Freshpac in Halesworth, said: 'Despite the current political and economic uncertainty in the UK at the moment, the Department for International Trade and New Anglia has fully supported everyone involved and we are now making some exciting new contacts in Europe.'

The show is just one way of encouraging East Anglian food, drink and agriculture abroad - which currently contributes £3.9bn to the UK economy and produces 11% of its food and drink.

Doug Field, Chair of New Anglia LEP, said: 'Norfolk and Suffolk is well placed as Europe's eastern gateway to the UK. It is a food lover's paradise with a strong agricultural heritage and a long history of innovation, much of it intertwined with Dutch know-how. We're looking forward to building on this success and helping our food and drink sector expand internationally.'

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