‘It’s cru­cial York­shire pro­duc­ers un­der­stand there is plenty of sup­port out there’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Noblett

Bat­tle Oats, a man­u­fac­turer of health food prod­ucts from Hull, re­cently told our team about a sim­ple, but sig­nif­i­cant re­quest it had re­ceived from its dis­trib­u­tors in the UAE. The firm was asked to fea­ture the Union Jack on its pack­ag­ing. Why? Be­cause its dis­trib­u­tors wanted the busi­ness to thor­oughly cap­i­talise on the strong de­mand for Bri­tish food and drink from con­sumers across the coun­try.

Bat­tle Oats is just one of the UK firms suc­ceed­ing in the UAE and its case high­lights the ripe op­por­tu­nity for other busi­nesses to ex­pand here. In fact, more lo­cal pro­duc­ers are be­gin­ning to tar­get con­sumers in the likes of Bahrain, Qatar and UAE than ever be­fore.

Re­cent ex­port fig­ures show that York­shire and the Humber ex­ported an im­pres­sive £11.1m worth of food and drink to the UAE in the year to Septem­ber 2018, a 25 per cent in­crease on the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

This is in part due to many of the re­gion’s firms now sup­ply­ing UAE re­tail­ers. One such ex­am­ple is The Ice Co, a South Kirkby man­u­fac­turer of con­ve­nience bags of ice, which has re­cently se­cured a sig­nif­i­cant con­tract to sup­ply Abu-Dhabi head­quar­tered hy­per­mar­ket chain LuLu with its West York­shire-sourced ice.

Sh­effield start-up Pura Panela is an­other great suc­cess story. It also se­cured a deal with LuLu to sup­ply its dried sugar cane juice, which is a nat­u­ral, nu­tri­tional sweet­ener. It se­cured the con­tract after at­tend­ing Gul­food 2018, which it at­tended as part of a North­ern Powerhouse trade mis­sion or­gan­ised by the gov­ern­ment’s Food is GREAT cam­paign.

The UAE is ranked highly on the World Bank’s Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness Re­port – jump­ing ten places in 2018 to 11th place.

How­ever, this is not to say that there are no po­ten­tial chal­lenges to ex­port­ing to the re­gion.

In en­ter­ing any mar­ket, it is im­por­tant that firms do thor­ough re­search and plan­ning to un­der­stand key com­peti­tors, the coun­try’s mar­ket con­di­tions as well as le­gal and reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments.

For ex­am­ple, while English is con­sid­ered a lan­guage of busi­ness, food im­port reg­u­la­tions in the UAE re­quire the prod­uct in­for­ma­tion to be in Ara­bic, ei­ther as part of the pack­ag­ing or as an af­fixed la­bel.

It’s cru­cial that York­shire pro­duc­ers un­der­stand that there is plenty of sup­port out there to help them on their ex­port­ing jour­ney, re­gard­less of their size, scale and as­pi­ra­tions.

Trade shows can be a great way for firms to sam­ple the mar­ket. The De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade and the De­part­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs (De­fra) are tak­ing firms from across the re­gion to Gul­food 2019 in Fe­bru­ary, the world’s largest food and drink trade event. Re­cruit­ment for the trade mis­sion is still un­der­way, so get in touch with the York­shire DIT of­fice for an ini­tial dis­cus­sion about your ex­port plans and how you can take part in these op­por­tu­ni­ties.

If over­seas de­mand for pro­duce from York­shire and Humber con­tin­ues to grow at the same pace, you never know – it may be the White Rose of York ap­pear­ing on pack­ag­ing soon.

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