UK pet food manufacturers exported £343.1m worth of pet food in 2018, representing growth of 5.6% compared to 2017, according to figures released by the Department for International Trade.
Paul Shand, the Department’s (DIT) head of trade in the South West, said: “In markets like the Middle East and Asia, British-made products are synonymous with quality which presents a golden opportunity for UK businesses to explore these international opportunities.”
The Department highlighted the success of Swindon-based Vet’s Kitchen, which started exporting its premium pet food last Autumn and within 10 months was exporting to 10 countries. Vet’s Kitchen is part of Pet’s Kitchen, which has a second business – Vet’s Klinic, a state-of-the-art veterinary practice.
With support from the DIT, the company generated more than £100,000 of revenue in the first six months of exporting. This year the company is expected to see turnover of more than £500,000 and within three years, it is forecast to achieve sales of more than £1million from exports alone.
Paul said: “It is exciting to see just how much Pet’s Kitchen has achieved internationally in such a short space of time, highlighting the growing global demand for pet food overseas.”
Ben Hutton, sales director at Pet’s Kitchen, said: “Exporting can be quite challenging but it is also very rewarding.
“Getting insights about your brand from potential new partners in Asia and the Middle East especially can lead to new challenges but also new opportunities. You see your brand from a brand-new perspective, with each country having a unique list of requirements and preferences and it’s important to listen.
“What works in one market may not work in in another, for example fish recipes in the UK don’t sell so well but in Asia where fish is prevalent in the local cuisine, fish recipes are very popular.
“DIT has been instrumental in helping us navigate various markets, from providing reference for potential new partners to exporting advice. I would encourage other UK companies that are considering exporting to contact DIT and see how they can help.
In South Korea, one of the fastest growing pet food markets in the world, the company secured a deal with distributor Top Pet. It has also entered a deal with FairPrice, the largest grocery chain in Singapore.
The company is also starting to distribute in Hong Kong, and although a very small market, it can test the Chinese market for bigger opportunities. The revenue from each of these export wins totalled more than £100,000 and is expected to double over the next 12 months.
The UK firm is also making inroads into the Middle East and is trading with three partners – The Petshop in the United Arab Emirates; grocery chain LuLu’s which has 174 outlets across the Gulf regions; and Alosra, which has nine supermarkets in Bahrain.
Next year, Vet’s Kitchen will target further markets in Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand and Japan. Europe is also on the agenda and the brand has secured an agreement with the largest grocery chain in the Republic of Ireland, Dunnes Stores.