As we move towards Brexit, it has been argued that there has never been a better time for British businesses to explore new markets and export their products.
Brand Britain is currently worth almost £1.5 trillion, with the UK shipping goods in excess of £300bn across the globe annually. In total, Britain exported £18bn of food and drink products in 2015 and the Government wants to increase that figure by £2.9bn by 2020.
In its UK Food and Drink International Plan 2016-20 the Government states its plans to work with the industry to deliver a boost to the export market. British brands will be supported through trade and ‘cultural activity’ to promote UK food and drink, and open new and build existing markets.
Opportunities offered by exporting
The UK craft drink sector, alcohol and soft drinks, has seen significant growth since 2014. The number of small breweries, for example, has risen from 1400 to 1700 during the last two years. That’s more breweries per capita than any other country in the world, and is a figure still increasing by approx 10% per year. With more than 500 new breweries launched in the UK in 2016 alone, there is a risk that the UK market will reach a saturation point. That is, unless breweries look to other export markets.
Also in this time, the number of craft brands in a canned format has gone from a few, to a few hundred. The can is the ideal pack for any drink brand that exports its product. Cans are lightweight, easily stacked and take up less space than bottles. This provides storage and shipping efficiencies and limits overall transportation carbon emissions through logistics and supply chains.
Cans have an unparalleled safety record. Sturdy and unlikely to suffer breakages, their tamperresistant and tamper evident packaging provides consumers with peace of mind that their products have been safely prepared and delivered.
Naturally, having more drink producers in the UK is leading to greater domestic competition. Export is therefore a logical and natural next step for many to take. According to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), companies that export see a 34% increase in productivity within their first year of exporting and are 11% more likely to survive if doing business overseas. By expanding the scope of their market, brands are less dependent on any one single territory and can minimise the sale fluctuations that occur naturally in combination with changing seasons, weather and events.
Success in exporting can also lead to opportunities for brand expansion. Research by UKTI shows that, since exporting, 59% of companies either develop a new product or service, or modify an existing one. Interestingly, it has been seen that firms that export are more likely to experience higher productivity in the workforce, alongside stronger financial performance.
For top tips on how to get into exporting, you can find these in the full Can Makers white paper here.