A Hove-based business has been given a chance to get hands-on experience of exporting to Latin America on a trade mission to Mexico organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Dr Heff’s, a producer of sugar-free mints, was one of six South East food and drink producers to attend the trade mission, which visited Mexico City, Monterray and Guadalajara.
The company met with potential distributors, agents and buyers, gained in-depth knowledge on consumer trends and saw first-hand how to make a brand appeal to Latin American markets.
Founded by two dentists, Dr Michael Heffernan and Dr Toby Edwards-Lunn, Dr Heff’s ‘Remarkable Mints’ are sugar-free and contain no artificial colours. The product is designed to target the growing consumer demand for healthier food and drink options.
As part of the trade mission, the six South East businesses attended the ANTAD Alimentaria exhibition in Guadalajara. It is one of the largest regional exhibitions in the food industry, attracting around 50,000 visitors annually. Almost 90% of those attending the event come from the 20 countries that make up Latin America, including Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Cuba.
Exports from the South East to Latin America totalled more than £484m in 2018, demonstrating the wealth of opportunity in the region.
The trade mission was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and its Global Growth, Get Exporting 2 and South East International Business Growth programmes.
Dr Michael Heffernan, director at Dr Heff’s, said: “Attending the trade mission to Mexico was hugely beneficial as it gave us the opportunity to meet buyers and distributors in person, including those interested in our healthy and sugar-free products.
“We have been working with DIT to explore the export opportunities for our brand in Mexico for a while now. It’s a target market for us as there is a large, young, urban population that are health conscious. Cracking Mexico will also hopefully open up other opportunities in Latin America.
“The knowledge and contacts you gain when actually visiting a country are invaluable in establishing a strong foundation for trading overseas, and we’d recommend that any business interested in exporting should look into the support available from DIT, from networking events here in the UK, to going on a trade mission of their own.”
Ben Raby, head of South East region, DIT, said: “There is a real hunger in Latin American countries like Mexico for British-branded food and drink, in no small part due to a fast-growing middle-class consumer group, who see products that are made in the UK as high quality.
“For any South East businesses interested in finding out what opportunities are out there for them, we have a calendar full of export events listed online. We also have a team of International Trade Advisers based on the ground in the South East, who can provide expert trade advice, market know-how and practical support for international growth.”
The other South East businesses that attended were Silent Pool Distillers (Guildford), Willimott House Ltd (Addlestone), London Pilsner Ltd (Middlesex), Natural Balance Foods Ltd. (Aylesbury) and Atom Brands (Kent).
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