UK food and drink producers need to expand trade relations beyond Europe and focus on shipping goods to the US and Asia via Liverpool if they are to take full advantage of the sector’s potential export value, according to DIT, Welsh Government and key players from the northern food and drink industry.
The Port of Liverpool could be the gateway to lucrative export markets in the Americas and Asia for thousands of UK producers.
The message was delivered at an event in Liverpool last month designed to help firms export. It comes at a time when British produce is growing in popularity, with over £22bn of food and drink products shipped around the world last year and over £1.7bn from the North-West alone.
Hosted by port operator Peel Ports Group in partnership with the Department for International Trade and the Welsh Government, the dinner saw 50 food and drinks producers from across the Northern Powerhouse and North Wales come together to accelerate their export potential via the Port of Liverpool.
Attendees included Halewood International, producers of Whitley Neill Gin and Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer.
Scott Kilshaw, Supply Chain Director at Halewood International, said: “We’ve cultivated an export emphasis in Asia, particularly China and Thailand where our products are growing in popularity. With trade links from Liverpool to Asia and the Americas, the potential for UK firms to increase their export volumes via the North West is endless, regardless of any consequences Brexit may bring.
“Demand overseas is growing, and the more we can export, the more mature the international market will become. If we don’t commit to fulfilling the UK’s food and drink export potential we will be losing out on a significant market which already has a taste for British produce. With significant investments being made at The Port of Liverpool in recent years, the North-West has a deep sea gateway to the world which is ideally located in the heart of the UK.”
Atlantic Container Line, who have eight sailings per week between UK and North American ports, is a key player in facilitating UK exports.
David Shaw of ACL, said: “The Port of Liverpool has been instrumental in growing export levels in recent years. 80 per cent of our transatlantic trade arriving by road comes from within an 80-mile radius of Liverpool, which really shows the density of producers in the north of England and their export potential. Peel Ports’ long-term vision for turning the North-West into the UK’s trading gateway to the rest of the world is commendable, and the investments made around the Port of Liverpool show they are extremely well prepared for continued export growth via the Atlantic.”
Patrick Walters, Chief Operating Officer at Peel Ports, said: “Bringing together government, business and logistics partners under a shared goal of increasing levels of food and drink exports has been extremely productive and satisfying. Liverpool has the potential to turn thousands of producers across the UK into global exporters. Connected to the heart of the UK by road, rail and canal, shipping via Liverpool provides direct access to the bulk of the UK’s population and, in turn, to a significant amount of producers looking to take the next step on their journey and export goods abroad.”
Lynne Gillen, Department for International Trade Team Leader, said:“Figures provided from the Food and Drink Federation state that the UK now exports over £22bn of food and drink products globally, with over £1.7bn coming from the North West. Companies are increasingly looking for new markets and the US and Canada are of great interest. With this in mind we will be promoting various trade shows in the US, hosting CETA events to promote trade with Canada, and have plans to bring buyers over from the US and Canada in the summer months. It is important that all organisations involved in the exporting journey make life as easy as possible for companies and I believe the resource of Liverpool2 will have a great impact on the Northern economy.”
Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “In recent years, Welsh food and drink has gained a growing and well-deserved reputation for high quality. Working with businesses and growing the industry is one of the key priorities of our Action Plan and we are well on track to achieving the growth target of £7bn ahead of 2020. However, it is important that we continue to build on our success. Our trade events calendar gives our businesses the opportunity to access buyers from around the world. Working alongside partners such as the Port of Liverpool and our Welsh ports will give our business the benefit of a gateway to a global export market.”