Food from Britain has launched a bid to help UK manufacturers target overseas markets where better-for-you products are yet to make a mark.
The UK's own label health and wellbeing category is worth £1.5bn a year, according to TNS Worldpanel. But in other major countries it is only just beginning to take off.
It has commissioned a global research project to be completed by April, which it hopes will help suppliers find markets abroad for better-for-you products. The research will be conducted by FFB officials in the four biggest EU export markets - France, Germany, Italy and Spain. It will also examine trends a in other key markets for healthier food, such as the US and Japan.
FFB also plans seminars and trade development visits for suppliers. The work suppliers had done to date with the big four supermarket chains to develop their better-for-you ranges gave them a head start over counterparts in other countries, said research and consultancy manager Chris Brockman.
"Many UK suppliers have worked closely with retailers helping them shape the health and wellbeing category for years now," he said. "The UK market for this kind of product is more sophisticated than other main EU countries. It has been led by the retailers but suppliers have been brought along with them. As a result buyers from these countries are coming here to examine trends and copying what branded suppliers are doing."
Brockman said Germany could initially represent the biggest opportunity for suppliers. The category had not made a major impact there yet, but the big German retailers had started to take a greater interest.
FFB planned a fact finding visit for German retailers to the UK next month, he added.
There was also a growing export market for British suppliers of speciality and gourmet food, ethnic foods and foodservice, he said.