Premium party food manufacturer Frank Dale Foods plans to build a £1.5m export business by 2018, working with international trade advisory body UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

The 20-year-old family business started exporting to Singapore, Hong Kong and The Netherlands in autumn 2014, and plans to expand into countries including Indonesia, Thailand and Australia next.

The new export business comes as part of the foodservice company’s overall strategy to almost double its turnover from the current £4m to £7m in the next two to three years.

Claire Carter, international business development executive, told British Baker that the export business was already growing very quickly.

Frank Dale Foods met with UKTI in September 2013 to identify how the organisation could help develop the company’s plans for international growth. It then joined UKTI’s ‘Passport to Export’ initiative, which helps businesses to overcome barriers they may have when exporting for the first time.

A UKTI screening tool helped Frank Dale Foods narrow down potential target markets according to factors such as growth, proximity, cultural affinity and language. Singapore came out top, followed by Hong Kong and South Africa.

The company then took a field trip to Singapore with UKTI support earlier this year, before taking a stand at the FHA Food Show in Singapore, in April 2014. There, Frank Dale secured a deal with the company Cold Storage, which opened up other markets in Malaysia and Hong Kong.  

Carter commented: “There is an affinity with British products in these countries. We have created 12-packs of some of our best-selling lines, both sweet and savoury, for the retail trade overseas. These include mini fish and chips, mini Victoria sponge and mini quiche.”

Frank Dale Foods, which employs 35 people in Norwich, also supplies 50 UK distributors with 14 million mini-pieces of party food a year.

It is also developing a branded retail business in the UK, Carter said. It has started supplying retailers such as Booths and Ocado, and hopes to gain listings in higher-end retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose as the business develops.

The company has also started supplying airlines, including Qantas, in the past couple of years.