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2021 in review: UK’s Finest paves the way for Trade without Travel

2021: Trade without Travel

 This year we are proud to have made a huge leap across the globe with UK’s Finest, achieving so much in a short space of time. The marketplace, which was devised and launched before Zoom meetings became the normality and travel bans were put in place worldwide, has become an integral part of many UK businesses export strategy’s and companies are now starting to reap the rewards of being able to Trade without Travel.

Digital innovation and international collaboration has been key to UK’s Finest success in 2021, working with British Embassies in all parts of the world to deliver forward-thinking initiatives that connect their high-quality buyers with some of the UK’s most prestigious Food & Drink suppliers. Our marketplace has adapted, reworked and improved the way that British companies build international partnerships, ensuring that new introductions can still take place despite the cancellation of trade shows, overseas missions and market visits.

National & International growth for UK’s Finest Retail & Consumer

UK’s Finest Food & Drink sellers per region

Acknowledging the worldwide demand for premium Retail & Consumer products and the high-quality reputation of British suppliers within this sector, we launched UK’s Finest Retail & Consumer marketplace earlier this year and have not looked back!

Replicating the success of our Food & Drink marketplace, UK’s Finest Retail & Consumer is now packed with 170+ of the very best Fashion, Beauty, Homeware, Health & Wellbeing, Baby & Child, Gifting, Garden & DIY and Electronics suppliers from across the UK.

From cutlery from Sheffield to leather goods from Yeovil, umbrellas from London to skincare products from Hemel Hempstead, international colleagues in British Embassies have been impressed with the marketplace selection UK’s Finest offers them and their buyers. As a result we are pleased to have registered 29 buyers from United Arab Emirates, China, Mongolia, UAE, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland, plus 65 DIT Overseas Posts who actively scan the marketplace for new brands.

Due to UK’s Finest Retail & Consumer’s interest globally, the platform has recently surpassed the milestone of 100 connections between UK Sellers and buyers or British Embassies, and we’ve also seen 70 message exchanges between connected members. Success may already be round the corner for some brands, with 2 UK suppliers close to completing deals with buyers they found on the marketplace this year.

Sustainability at our core

Our offering of trade without travel puts sustainability at the core of both UK’s Finest marketplaces, but as the world came together for a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change at COP26, we recognised the need to spotlight innovative UK brands that were building a better future with sustainable solutions. Working with British Embassies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, UK’s Finest hosted a virtual Meet-the-Buyer event with focus on sustainable Retail & Consumer products.

The initiative was our most successful virtual event to date, connecting 40 UK suppliers with 16 international buyers from 9 countries. Suppliers need to be committed to supplying products that met at least 1 of the following sustainable features:

  • Recycled or Re-Usable Packaging
  • Plastic-free
  • Responsibly Sourced Ingredients or Materials
  • Free-From, Natural or Organic products
  • Fair Trade / Ethical Trade
  • Carbon Footprint Reduction
  • Sustainable Circular Economy
  • Produced or manufactured with Renewable Energy/Water
  • Composting (Controlled decomposition)

A total of 49 virtual meetings with International Buyers took place across the 2-day event, with a subsequent 17 meetings with DIT British Embassy staff who discussed potential in-market opportunities with UK brands. 10 pipeline deals have been indicated for our companies, but we expect this number to grow in the next 6 months.

Number of meetings per UK’s Finest Meet the Buyer event in 2021

Food & Drink continues to thrive

Growth has continued for our Food & Drink marketplace too, with 61 new buyers joining the marketplace in 2021 for our members to connect with. That’s an average of 5 a month! New additions from Costa Rica, Australia, Bolivia, Taiwan, Canada, New Zealand, Qatar and Hong Kong has meant our international reach now spans 5 continents, and we’ve also strengthened our offering within Europe following registrations from buyers in Germany, Bulgaria, Belgium, Kosovo and Czechia.

UK’s Finest Food & Drink is now brimming with over 300 exciting brands, of which 134 have joined in 2021, and our coverage now sweeps far and wide across the UK. Filling the marketplace with the very best export-ready brands has led to an exceptional increase in activity that the UK’s Finest team are proud to have facilitated. Sellers have made 904 connections with international buyers and British Embassy staff since the start of the year and we’ve seen over 1000 message exchanges as a result of these new connections.

Matchmaking for quality 1-2-1 meetings

We’ve also added value to our Food & Drink marketplace with bolt on events and initiatives that were exclusive to members, and we’ve capitalised on collaborative opportunities with British Embassies in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, USA, Hong Kong, Germany and Belgium, offering 3 virtual Meet-the-Buyer events for our Food & Drink brands.

By understanding the needs of each buyer’s buying criteria, we’ve been able to expertly match 15 buyers with UK’s Finest suppliers at our events, facilitating a total of 74 high-quality 1-2-1 video meetings. Our UK brands find these types of introductions incredibly useful and we’re thrilled to attribute 2 business deals as a result of these initiatives, with further 22 orders already in the pipeline for companies.

“It’s now so simple to connect with potential buyers on the marketplace who are verified by DIT, and this led to us finding a new Bulgarian distributor who was interested Adnams’ products”

UK’s Finest: A conduit for success

We appreciate that business deals do not happen overnight, and with the impact of the pandemic still influencing decisions around the world many introductions may still be in the early stages. Despite the challenges businesses have faced this year, we are delighted to share stories of UK’s Finest success which have continued to emerge throughout 2021.

East of England brewery Adnams, who joined our Food & Drink marketplace in 2020, have recently received their first export order from a Bulgarian buyer on UK’s Finest.

“UK’s Finest has been hugely beneficial Adnams when looking to find potential partners overseas. The platform’s filtering function gave us focus, as we could connect with buyers who were interested in purchasing beer and spirits.” said Bradley Adnams, International Development Specialist.

Bradley explained that before registering for free on the marketplace, Adnams often found it difficult to find new buyers, relying on desk research, tradeshows and industry contacts, as well as the support of the Department for International Trade (DIT).

 “It’s now so simple to connect with potential buyers on the marketplace who are verified by DIT, and this led to us finding a new Bulgarian distributor who was interested Adnams’ products. After the initial connection, a few messages and calls followed, and then before we knew it, we started preparing the buyer’s first order!”

 After Adnam’s export success using the platform, Bradley recommends all UK Food & Drink exporters to join UK’s Finest to capitalise on the growing demand for British produce.

“It’s so easy to register for UK’s Finest and upload a profile that will be visible to buyers across the world!”

 Low emission trade to continue into 2022

Aviation accounts for 3% of carbon emissions worldwide, making every one of our virtual introductions important for the future of our planet and also for the pockets of our buyers and sellers. UK suppliers have fed back that they love our marketplace because it’s free, all buyers have been pre-qualified by The Department for International Trade, and that they can connect with key decision-makers and British Embassy staff worldwide without the need to leave their desks.

Next year we have our sights set on offering more virtual opportunities for members and we will kick off 2022 with a virtual 1-2-1 event for Canada, offering members the chance to book meetings with in-country agents who are looking for refreshing and unique British Alcoholic drinks brands. We are working with our colleagues overseas to bring new buyers from Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, New Zealand and Bosnia & Herzegovina onto UK’s Finest, and we will notify our members when new buyers join the marketplace that are looking for products like yours.

Focus on the Middle East for Retail & Consumer

Not every introduction is suited to the virtual world and we have collaborated with The Department for International Trade’s Retail Sector team and The Retail Summit in United Arab Emirates to offer an exclusive Retail Mission to Dubai in March 2022. Offering in-market visits to key retailers, meet the buyer sessions and discounted entry to The Retail Summit 2022 conference. The mission also coincides with the fantastic world Expo 2020 Dubai, the world Expo, that will be held in the United Arab Emirates from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, the first of its kind to be held in an Arab country. We’ve committed to delivering an exciting package that is exceptional value for money for our Retail & Consumer brands.

To continue our support of Trade without Travel, all Middle Eastern buyers we work with on the mission will be joining UK’s Finest Retail & Consumer, allowing for virtual introductions to be made long after the initiative has concluded. We will notify our members of these new additions in Spring 2022.

Interested in join UK’s Finest? 

If you’re an experienced Food & Drink or Retail & Consumer exporter, based in the UK and and working with a DIT Trade Adviser, you may be eligible to benefit from UK’s Finest and our exclusive marketplace opportunities. Please get in touch with your Trade Adviser to discuss you application and find out more on how to apply to the platform.

If you have any questions about UK’s Finest, please get in touch with us: