SMEs: the true heroes of Britain's export success

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Sir: It is commendable that the FDF has added an Export Success of the Year category into its Community Partnership Awards (‘Exporting our way to success’, 3 November).

However, it was rather predictable that all three winning companies were well-established exporters of mainstream brands in iconic British product segments (tea and biscuits), despite their achievements.

If the FDF and Defra are committed to helping the UK food and drink industry as a whole to grow and remain competitive, they should also recognise the export efforts and successes of SMEs, which represent 98% of the sector.

We work with manufacturers whose products have less overt appeal abroad - including mineral water, niche dairy products and gluten-free ready meal. They face the challenges of needing to export in order to grow, and expanding overseas without the human resources, brand strength, in-house skills or budgets of large companies.

I would suggest SMEs that overcome these hurdles to build sustainable sales overseas are the true export heroes in today’s tough trading environment.

Nicola Thomas, director, A La Carte Consulting

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