Export manager Janette Scarth told DairyReporter that attending Gulfood has been invaluable.
“It was a fairly new market for us when we started two years ago, so at the moment we supply into a retailer in Dubai, and we have business in Kuwait.
"We're in talks with another distributor in Dubai. Although [Gulfood is] based in the Middle East you do get an international set of visitors. Because it's very accessible you get people coming in from everywhere," Scarth said.
“We exhibited for two years, and we were very successful, we just felt it was appropriate to go as a part of the trade mission. UKTI are using us as one of the success stories.”
UKTI opens doors
By attending Gulfood and Halal World as part of the Northern Powerhouse mission, businesses can join market briefings from UKTI, and meet food and drink specialists from the UKTI global network.
They are also able to attend one-to-one meetings with UKTI and selected buyers, join networking events and include their company’s details in a trade mission brochure circulated to all buyers.
Stephen Noblett, food and drink sector specialist with UKTI Yorkshire and the Humber, will join the 30-plus delegation of businesses.
He said, “The Gulf, Middle East and North Africa and Halal markets can be complex and potentially a barrier to companies wishing to trade in them but by attending Gulfood with UKTI we will broaden their horizons and open doors and opportunities that they could never achieve by attending on their own.”
A focused visit to Gulfood
Scarth told DR that having things arranged in advance was different, but useful.
“There are prearranged networking events where we can piggyback on UKTI's trade contacts. The big advantage is it's very focused and planned. It meant we could arrange meetings with our existing customers as well, so we can blend the two,” Scarth said.
“We've been there, we know people like our products, but this time we'll go as a more focused visit. We're only there for four days and most of that time is arranged for us, and the luxury is we actually get a chance to look around the show properly in detail, look for ideas.
“We go with a product development hat on, as well, so we look at packaging, see what the competition is up to,” Scarth said.
Attending events around the world
Going to a variety of trade shows has been important to Wensleydale, Scarth said.
“For exhibiting, we do three shows in America, one in Canada, one UK, and another European show,” she told DR.
“It is an investment. We have a very strong brand, and we are well known, but we're not a huge company, but we don't have huge marketing budgets.
“We have to be very creative and very focused on where we're being represented, and if we can work with partners we will do that, but for export it's only in the last three or four years we've focused on it and started investing a lot more time and money on going overseas and exhibiting.
“It is making a difference, and we've learned an awful lot along the way. It's been a big learning curve,” she added.
Expansion of premises and staff
In the past year, the business, based at Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales, completed a major redevelopment of its premises, including the construction of a new creamery to enable it to increase productivity to meet rising demand for its products from customers abroad and in the United Kingdom.
Part of Wensleydale’s expansion strategy included the appointment of business and product development manager Phil Jones to support export manager Janette Scarth in an initiative to drive growth in new international markets and develop global partnerships.
Wensleydale, which also attended Gulfood in 2014 and 2015, achieves about 13% of its sales overseas thanks to its cheeses being available in North America, continental Europe, China, Australia, Scandinavia, the Falkland Islands and Dubai itself.
World’s biggest food and hospitality show
More than 30 businesses from Yorkshire and the Humber, the North West and the North East of England are joining the mission to represent the Northern Powerhouse, a region with a gross domestic product (GDP) of about $506bn (£350bn), equivalent to the 21st largest economy in the world.
The Gulfood and Halal World show in Dubai, which runs from February 19-25, is the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show, attracting almost 5,000 exhibitors from more than 120 nations to the trading hub of the Middle East.