With exports of British food at record levels, exhibitors at this year’s Anuga Trade Fair have a lot to smile about. What do they want to get out of the experience, asks Virginia Matthews

The Jeremiahs who predicted that the closure of Food from Britain back in 2009 would lead to a slump in global demand for British food and drink will take heart from the latest export figures.

As thousands of exhibitors from all corners of the globe prepare to roll up their sleeves and do business at the Anuga Trade Fair next month, new half-year data from the Food and Drink Federation shows exports close to a record £12bn.

“There is a fantastic appetite around the world for UK food and drink,” says Melanie Leech, director general of FDF. “Having broken through the £10bn barrier in 2010, demand shows no signs of slowing down.”

While British food exports have traditionally relied on Europe, there is growing interest from further afield, says Leech. “The EU remains our top customer but we have seen encouraging progress in Asia, America and parts of the Middle East,” she says, mentioning a 60.7% increase in exports to South Africa, 36.3% for Hong Kong and 28.5% in China, including a massive 1,633% growth for the dairy sector alone.

There is a greater interest than ever before in Western cuisine among the developing markets of China, India and the Middle East, she adds. Some of the British dairy companies attending Anuga will certainly be hoping so. Long Clawson Dairy will be showcasing top cheeses such as Blue Stilton, Blue Shropshire and Thomas Hoe Stevenson Aged Leicestershire Red in the belief that lucrative markets overseas are now ripe for exploitation.

“People are far more cosmopolitan nowadays when it comes to trying new cheeses,” says marketing manager Janice Breedon, who believes there is ample room to grow the current 15% to 20% share of the business represented by exports.

“While France, Germany, Spain and North America remain our top export destinations, there is also Australia, the Middle East, China and Japan to consider.

“In these cases, Anuga provides the perfect opportunity to extend knowledge of our products in countries where demand for speciality cheeses is growing, but where we as a supplier are currently unknown.”

Verbal communication is, however, just one part of the equation, she says. “We tend to find initial resistance breaks down once people have actually experienced it, so we’ll be putting sampling at the top of the agenda at Anuga this year.”

While Long Clawson’s 100-year-plus heritage is a winning proposition in many overseas markets, the dairy says it has only started taking the export side of its business “really seriously” since the 1990s.

For the 14-year-old Curry Sauce Company, the drive to establish a reputation abroad was started even more recently, says managing director Nick Burdock, who has chosen Anuga as the backdrop to a move from plastic packaging into what he terms “the far more export-friendly arena of glass”.

He says: “This will only be our second Anuga, but it’s so important to us that we’ll be exhibiting independently on a 3m by 3m stand, rather than a booth, to gain maximum impact for our three new budget, mid-market and premium products in glass.”

Breaking the mould
While curry has become synonymous with British cuisine, Burdock believes expats abroad a big market for the family company are poorly served by importers who rely on established names.

“The big brands rely on familiarity to keep them at the top of the tree, but it’s us who break the mould. I’m hoping that by going big at Anuga this year, the export market will start to notice us and eventually offer their customers a wider choice of curry sauce.”

With years of experience supplying British food and drink products to overseas retailers, Nigel Heyes, managing director of British Food Exports, sees Anuga as the perfect showcase for his new venture, The British Pantry. An export-friendly merchandising fixture, it is dedicated to quintessentially British producers such as Farmhouse Biscuits from Nelson, Lancashire; Mrs Darlington Jams, Marmalades, Curds and Chutney from Crewe in Cheshire; and Chegworth Valley Juices from Kent.

Heyes believes that The British Pantry will encourage worldwide retailers to offer expatriate customers “a taste of home” by enabling them to order stock, fixtures and display graphics from one source.

For Alison Lea-Wilson, director of The Anglesey Sea Salt Company, Anuga is about people as much as products. “We’re attending the show to support our distributors in Germany and to meet our European customers,” she says. “We are hoping to win more business, establish a closer relationship with our customers and gain greater insight into the European fine food market.”

The Anglesey Sea Salt Company has an array of specialist products to promote at Anuga, including hand-harvested sea salts, sea salt-based gifts and a new purified, concentrated brine (see p66).

If October in Cologne proves chilly, Stand F65 (part of the British Pavilion) will be able to provide some warmth in the shape of a new Mulled Winter Punch from Lincolnshire-based Belvoir Fruit Farms. “It isn’t always possible to travel to every market we are represented in, so our stand at Anuga effectively becomes a Belvoir Fruit Farms satellite office for five days,” says Peter Webster, export sales manager for the brand.

“In terms of specific countries, we’ll be targeting Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America, but it’s also good to meet with fellow producers to discuss and share the current issues and challenges facing UK exporters.”

As for future growth, he is philosophical: “It’s about getting the message out there.”

Export growth potential
Melanie Leech believes future export success is now within the grasp of British producers, and pledges further assistance from the FDF. “Creating the right framework for our members to understand and exploit export opportunities is a key part of the Federation’s work to promote the competitiveness of the food and drink manufacturing sector,” she says.

“This autumn, we’ll be launching a major piece of research to help us define and clearly articulate the sector’s potential for sustainable growth and examining export markets across the world to see where there are opportunities and barriers,” Leech adds.

Her confidence echoes that of the suppliers attending Anuga. And if, as Peter Grothues (see left) maintains, the trade fair is “the most important meeting place for the international food and beverages industry”, we can expect to see British export figures continue climbing in the wake of Anuga 2011.

What can we expect from anuga 2011?

More than 6,500 exhibitors and some 150,000 visitors will descend on Cologne next month for Anuga’s Taste the Future exhibition (October 8-12). It is unique in offering 10 specialised trade shows and almost 300,000 square metres of ideas, inspiration and innovations under one roof.

Nine of the specialist shows will be familiar to past exhibitors and attendees: Fine Food; Drinks; Chilled & Fresh Food; Meat/Sausage/Game/Poultry; Frozen Food & Ice Cream; Dairy; Bread and Baked Goods plus Spreads and Hot Beverages; Organic; and Technology and Services for Retail. But new this year is Anuga Foodservice, which lifts the lid on the latest technical and service innovations for catering and foodservice.

This year, Anuga is also adding a new exhibition theme industrial ingredients bringing the list to nine. Established themes include halal and kosher products, finger food and regional specialities. This is the largest food and beverage show in the world, attracting exhibitors from across the globe.

The biggest presence this year will be that of partner country Italy, followed by Spain, which has increased its presence by some 20% since Anuga 2009. Israel will be sending 20 manufacturers, with products ranging from bakery to spices, under the auspices of the Israel Export and International Co-operation Institute.

“We hope to replicate our success in the United States retail market with similar progress across the all-important UK grocery business, and Anuga is a key stage towards achieving that objective,” said an Institute spokesman. The Israelis’ decision to return to Anuga in 2009 after a decade’s absence is testimony to the fair’s place in global food and drink.

“No other event can match Anuga in terms of the breadth, variety, scope and international character on offer to an industry which has been truly global for a long time now,” says Peter Grothues, vice-president of the fair.

Tickets and further information: www.anuga.com
E-mail: anuga@visitor.koelnmesse.de
Tel: +49 (0) 180 520 4220


Stilton (Long Clawson Dairy)
It may have been available in the UK for some years, but this cheese’s international debut marks a bold new chapter in the company’s overseas development. Long Clawson Dairy hopes Blue Stilton will have broad international appeal in emerging Middle Eastern and Asian markets. It is currently available either direct or via large UK and international retail chains, retailing at £11.90 per kilo (the export rsp will vary from country to country).

Belazu Snack and Retail pots (Fresh Olives Co)
Launching internationally at Anuga, these retail pots come in eight flavours, including Pompeii (cracked green olives with a chilli dressing) and Rustica (pitted Kalamata olives with rose harissa dressing). Available direct or from large European retailers, rsp: £2.30 for 130g or £1.50 for the 65g snack pots.

Liquid halen môn (Anglesey Sea Salt Company)
This purified, concentrated brine can be put to a variety of uses, including brining, cooking and roasting. Pitched at the Christmas poultry market, it is already available from the Anglesey Sea Salt Company, but will soon be available through Amazon UK and at Fortnum & Mason (rsp: £3.95).

Mulled winter punch (Belvoir Fruit Farms)
The new non-alcoholic Mulled Winter Punch is aimed squarely at the Christmas market both at home and abroad. Fusing fruit juices, nutmeg oil and mixed spice, the punch can be combined with red wine to create an alcoholic version and can be served either warm or cold. Direct from Belvoir (rsp: £2.75).