Penrith-based brewery Eden River Brew Co is celebrating after boosting its business by shipping an order of over 70,000 bottles of its locally-brewed beer to Asia.
The business, which only started exporting a year ago, secured a major contract with a Chinese distributor to supply 75,000 bottles of its traditional English ale after attending a government-led Northern Powerhouse trade mission to China’s largest food and drink exhibition, Food & Hotel China (FHC).
Following its visit to China, the team from Eden travelled to Japan where they were introduced to key buyers in the market, securing a deal to send 3,600 litres of craft beer to the country.
The FHC trade mission was supported by the Food is GREAT campaign, a cross-departmental campaign between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT).
The business began its exporting journey seeking to balance the seasonal cycle of sales to tourists visiting its brewery in the Lake District over the summer months. Overseas sales now make up 15% of Eden River Brew Co’s annual turnover, with plans in place to grow export sales to 30-40% of its annual turnover within the next three years as it looks to new markets including India.
Jason Hill, Owner, Eden River Brew Co, said: “We founded the company seven years ago but decided to start exporting as part of our growth plans. Our income was reliant on tourists visiting our Lake District brewery, which was impacted by seasonality. This is one of the reasons why we wanted to explore the growth potential in taking our beers abroad.
“We got in touch with our local DIT team and signed up for our first Introduction to Exporting course. This turned out to be our best move as it provided us with the information we needed to get going. Our ITA has also been a great resource, supporting our attendance on trade missions, which allowed us to meet with the right people in the countries we wanted to target.
“Exporting is exciting and incredibly worthwhile however it does come with its challenges – for example, we’ve had to make some changes to our labelling to include other languages, and there is new paperwork and procedures to follow. We’ve also adapted our product offering to better suit market preferences. Japanese customers are interested in our craft beers, but customers in China are more interested in more traditional English ale.
“If you’re thinking of selling overseas, I suggest you get in touch with your local DIT office, do your research and meet customers face-to-face. We’ve been able to rely on our ITA every step of the way.
“We have started selling our beers to places we’d never have expected when first starting out and are very proud of what we have achieved. However, this is just the beginning – we’re excited to see what the future holds.”
Paul Stowers, Head of Regions – North West at DIT, said: “The team at Eden River Brew Co is extremely driven and has a strong growth plan in place which has seen it successfully tap into markets that many UK brewers might not initially consider.
“The team continue to work closely with their local ITA to find out about new markets and what is needed to get their beers selling overseas, something I’d urge other business in the region to think about doing.
“Any business looking to either start exporting, or enter new markets, should get in touch to see how we can help. If Eden River Brew Co can go from nought to export in under a year, why can’t your business?”