Cotswolds bakery Huffkins has secured its first export contract, with its fruitcakes, shortbread and branded going on sale in Japan.
Its products are available in two high-end department stores in Tokyo and, as of this month, will be sold online through the website of Huffkins’ Japanese distributor. In November, the distributor will also be opening a shop in central Tokyo with a dedicated section for the bakery’s goods.
Huffkins, established in 1890, secured the export deal following support from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) to attend the Foodex trade show in Tokyo last March. This was part of the Food is GREAT campaign that showcases British food and drink to foreign markets.
Following the trade show, Huffkins received strong interest from Japanese food and drink distributors, securing a partnership with one in October last year.
The business’s first order was for 1.7 tonnes of fruit cakes, shortbread and branded merchandise, and it has more orders secured for October this year and going into 2019.
“Exporting has been a key element of Huffkins’ business strategy, and our new deal with Japan is a real opportunity for the business’ growth,” said Natasha Whittaker, head of wholesale and export at Huffkins. “The response we got from attending the Foodex trade show in Tokyo was incredible.”
While there was a demand for the product in Japan, Huffkins had to overcome strict quarantine regulations, which required the company to list the origin of each of its ingredients. It worked with DIT’s international trade advisors, who support businesses looking to access new markets.
Paul Shand, DIT’s head of south west, said: “Huffkins has been proactive in seeking out new business overseas, and are now reaping the rewards. There is currently huge demand for British food and drink overseas, with exports totalling £760m from the south west in the year to March 2018.
“Although the demand is out there, we know there are a number of challenges that firms have to address. To help businesses tackle these issues, DIT has a dedicated team of international trade advisors across the south west to support ambitious and innovative businesses looking to access new markets and increase exports.”
Over the next year, Huffkins will be looking to further expand its exports into Scandinavia and other European markets, and has been working with international trade advisors from DIT to carry out market research and identify new business opportunities. Through its attendance at trade shows, the business has also secured orders to Australia, Canada and Switzerland, which will be dispatched later this year.