Food from Britain (FFB), the UK-based international food and drink export marketing agency, will be holding its annual 'International Insights' seminar and networking event on 5 June, targeted at British companies looking to export to southern Europe.
The event, held in Birmingham, will consist of presentations by FFB representatives from its offices in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as leading southern European trade contacts.
Two British food and drink manufacturers will also be highlighting how their own export strategies have successfully helped them penetrate markets and developed sales in this region.
Key topics to be covered include knowledge of customer profiles, effective positioning of products, and the differences between ex-pat and domestic audiences. Attendees will also have the chance to discuss their own export strategies through one-to-one appointments with FFB representatives.
Simon Waring, marketing and international management director at FFB, said: "These markets are key for many British exporters so we need to ensure companies really understand how to exploit them fully. This event will provide a really useful analysis for attendees as well as a key opportunity to network. It's certainly not an event to be missed."
In addition to those presenting there will also be FFB representatives from Belgium, Germany, the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Asia Pacific, Central Europe and Australia at the event.
The four countries under the spotlight are some of the leading export markets for British food and drink produts.
France is in fact the biggest market for UK food outside the British Isles themselves, and sales there grew by 5 per cent last year to £1.09 billion after a tough few years impacted by the prolonged (and illegal) ban on British beef. Lamb exports also recovered last year after being affected by the food-and-mouth disease outbreak the previous year.
But it was the French consumer's love of Scotch whisky which helped boost overall exports there last year. Scotch exports were up 5 per cent to £241 million, helping to push overall drinks exports up by 10 per cent on the previous year to £326 million, making it the single biggest product sector there.
Spain is also another important market for British food and drink products, with total sales of £684.2 million in 2002. Whisky was once again one of the growth drivers with sales of £258.8 million - albeit a decline from exceptionally high figures in 2000 and 2001. A recovery is epxected this year, according to FFB.
The drinks segment as a whole was valued at £316.9 million last year, making it the biggest among British food exports, ahead of fish with £119 million. Last year also saw a strong rise in UK exports of potatoes and a late recovery in UK exports of wheat as the new crop became available.
Sales to Italy last year reached £317 million, up 2 per cent on the previous year, despite a slight decline in Scotch whisky sales to £46 million. Exports of crustaceans (shrimps, prawns, etc.) were up 25 per cent, and there was also an increase in sales of prepared miscellaneous groceries. Another traditional British drink, tea, also registered an increase in exports to Italy in 2002.
As for Portugal, exports rose 19 per cent to £150 million, driven by whisky (up 14 per cent to £74.8 million), breakfast cereals (up 41 per cent to £8.4 million) and chocolate (up 32.1 per cent to £4.2 million).