Pulling pints in new markets

Paul Shand, head of the south west at the Department for International Trade, explores the growing appetite for British craft beer overseas


This summer some of the UK’s best breweries are showcasing their craft brews at six major beer and cider festivals in Cornwall, including Falmouth Beer Festival and Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival.

The rise of beer festivals is a telling sign of the booming craft beer market in the UK. In the year to September 2017, more than 500 new craft breweries opened in the UK to meet the growing demand for British beer, both at home and overseas.

Export opportunities for UK breweries have soared recently, as consumers across the globe develop a taste for unique and premium British-stamped pints. Last year exports of beer from the UK totalled over £517 million, an increase of 126% from the previous year.

As demand for beer evolves across the globe, it’s more important than ever for brewers to know which new markets to target. Markets including China and the US are increasingly seeking out British beer.

One business that’s tapping into this growing demand is Truro-based Skinner’s Brewery. The company is planning to launch its range of award-winning beers in China for the first time in the next 12 months after returning from a successful trade mission to the country.

Exporting offers lucrative opportunities for breweries, but can also bring challenges such as logistics and language barriers.

When exporting alcohol, it’s important that businesses familiarise themselves with local standards and regulations, particularly when exporting to highly regulated markets, such as China and the US.

Food and drink exported to China must be correctly labelled in Chinese, with the country of origin, the name and address of the Chinese distributor, weight, ingredients, date of production and expiry date. Products must also be approved by China’s Inspection and Quarantine agency before they reach the shelves.

In the US, ‘best before’ labels will need to be written with the month first and the date second. A small detail, but one that could have a detrimental effect on the success of a product in the States. Firms should also be aware of the varying legal requirements from state to state and ensure that their products have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before exporting.

As part of the Food is GREAT campaign, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) offer a wealth of support to help British producers who are keen to explore markets overseas.

Not only does DIT have a dedicated team of International Trade Advisers across the South West to support ambitious and innovative businesses looking to access new markets and increase exports, but we also have a team of experienced sector specialists and an overseas network in 108 countries.

We can offer a range of guidance and support, including international market research and exporting workshops, as well as enabling contact with buyers and distributors in new markets.

Breweries and firms in the south west looking for exporting support should contact DIT on 01275 370 944 or email DITsw@mobile.trade.gov.uk.