Ice cream firm scoops up international markets

Ice cream firm scoops up international markets

A Sheffield-based producer of ice cream and sorbet is aiming to double its exports to China and target new markets after successfully exporting its products across Europe.

Yee Kwan, whose desserts are inspired by the flavours of East Asia, secured a £50,000 investment on BBC Dragons’ Den, has started discussions with a distributor to target new markets in the Middle East, including Kuwait and Qatar.

The firm has been working with advisers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) to break into these new territories.

The business is also looking to sell more of its products in China after impressing attendees at Food & Hotel China (FHC) in November last year, a major trade show for the country’s food and drink industry.

DIT is currently featuring Yee Kwan alongside 30+ other UK businesses as part of its Exporting is GREAT campaign - which encompasses every sector and region – to inspire and support firms up and down the country to export.

Commenting on the firm’s export journey, Yee said: “After we’d realised the potential to sell our products overseas, we began working with advisers at DIT, who supported us in exhibiting at the International Food & Drink Event in London.

“It was here where we met a buyer from a major Chinese online retailer, and we secured an order worth £25,000.

“We then jumped on the opportunity to exhibit at FHC in Shanghai so we could build on our success in China.

“We had plenty of interest in our products there and we’re expecting to double our sales to the country off the back of it.

Yee began exporting only three years ago and currently sells products across 10 European countries, supplying its desserts to Japanese-inspired restaurant chain Wagamama.

The ice cream business started trading in 2009 after Yee was inspired by Far East flavours while travelling through South East Asia.

The firm now employs six full-time members of staff and has an annual turnover of more than £400,000.

Yee continued: “Markets such as the Middle East also have a lot of potential for us and we’re reviewing how we can take our desserts to the US too.

“But, exporting isn’t without its challenges. For example, there are strict regulations on exporting dairy products to the US.

“We’re working with government advisers to see how we can overcome this barrier. One solution could be finding a manufacturer to make our products under licence in the US.

“We’ve found that there’s loads of support to help us navigate exporting challenges – if we can do it, so can you!”

Mark Robson, regional director at the Department for International Trade, said: “Across the UK, businesses are embracing global export opportunities, with the trade of goods with non-EU countries growing by 11.6% in 2017 – faster than with the EU at 10.9%.

“An ambitious producer like Yee Kwan, that has seen major success in Europe, is an excellent example for other Yorkshire food and drink firms to follow.

“Our 29 dedicated Yorkshire and the Humber International Trade Advisers can help firms navigate the challenges exporting may throw at them with specialist food and drink support available from Defra advisers too.”