Who says it's nigh on impossible to sell strong tasting cheeses to Japan? Singleton's stand at this month's Foodex show in Tokyo was mobbed by Japanese buyers eager to taste the firm's traditional Stiltons and more unusual products such as Wensleydale with cranberries or Stilton with Calvados. Singleton's is in the vanguard of British cheese exporters to have spotted the new opportunities in Japan, and has been working with local distributors to sell between £80,000 and £100,000 of product a year through the foodservice and speciality retail markets. In between serving up product at Foodex, the company's sales manager John Carr said: "We started in Japan four years ago because we saw there was a demand for our product. We have found that in virtually every overseas market we have been to, people like dealing with cheese makers who control the product from farm to consumer. "It's a great story to tell ­ and they love it. They like to know the provenance of the cheese." Sure, the logistics involved in getting product to Japan can be a headache, says Carr. But his distributors are also buying from France which means they can consolidate their orders in Europe. And that means if Singleton's takes an order on Friday, its cheeses will be in Japanese shops a week on Wednesday. That also means the company does not have to worry about setting a minimum order size for deliveries to Japan. "Japan makes us money," said Carr. "The issue is never about price alone. It's about getting product there, when our customers want it and in the best possible condition. If you have a good product and can offer good service, the Japanese will pay the price." {{COVER FEATURE }}

Topics