UK Retail and Food & Drink Sectors focus on opportunities in Emerging Europe
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
On 5 to 6 June, representatives of UK Trade & Investment Poland promoted Polish retail and food and drink opportunities in London.
Ewa van Veenendaal-Rawicz, Deputy Head and Renata Rucka, Trade Adviser at UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Poland promoted opportunities in two strategic sectors in Poland: retail and food & drink at two high profile events in London: RLI Connect and Food & Drink Federation (FDF) workshop.
RLI Connect - a networking event in retail sector held at Chelsea Football Stadium - attracted leading UK high street retailers. During the event, UKTI Poland team briefed UK retailers on numerous opportunities in the Polish retail market and actively encouraged companies to consider the market in their future expansion plans. Poland indeed has a good story to tell. It is among the leading 20 most attractive investment locations globally for international retail chains. 38 million consumers make Poland the largest market in Central and Eastern Europe. The rising wealth and consumer sophistication create demand for new added-value products and services. The UK retailers expressed a lot of interest in the Polish market and in exploring the opportunities further. UKTI Poland has a major role in helping the UK companies in taking things forward in this exciting market. Follow-up meetings and activities are already in the pipeline.
The FDF workshop held right in the heart of London at Queen Elizabeth II’s conference centre provided a one stop shop for new and existing UK food & drink exporters interested in expanding to Emerging Europe (9 markets: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). The event was attended by over 50 UK food & drink companies. It was opened by the British Ambassador to Hungary, Jonathan Knott.
Ambassador Knott said:
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe offer huge potential to British exporters. UK exports of goods to the region were worth over £9.5 billion last year. Of this, we exported close to £400 million in food and non-alcoholic beverages.
A special guest, David Heath, Minister for Food at DEFRA, reassured the industry of the UK government’s help, saying:
Exports of food and drink to Central and Eastern Europe have increased by 38% since 2009. Demand for products such as whiskey, salmon and chocolate are on the up but there’s still scope for more. (…) We must do all we can to support UK food and drink companies so they can take full advantage of these opportunities’.
Melanie Leech, Food and Drink Federation’s Director General, stressed that:
Food and drink manufacturing is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK and is growing at a faster rate than most other sectors. The UK industry already has strong export links with Europe but now is the time for businesses who do not currently export to grasp the opportunities available and extend their reach further to new and emerging markets like Central and Eastern Europe.
UKTI’s experts in the region, Tesco, British Polish Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw and a Warsaw-based Raben logistics company provided delegates with insight into opprtunities in Emerging Europe and tools to help them develop export strategies to these crucial markets. Delegates also heard about successful case studies from established exporters to the regions.
The presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Paul Taylor, UKTI Regional Director during which experts from UKTI teams in Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia answered individual questions from the UK audience. The final part of the programme were roundtable discussions with smaller groups of companies interested in individual markets.
Both London events have demonstrated that there is a huge interest among UK companies in the Emerging Europe region. UKTI teams have a major role in helping the businesses to take things forward in those markets. The events also showed that working in partnership with organisations like RLI and FDF is key for efficient and timely delivery of messages about business opportunities and forthcoming events to the UK audience. It is crucial that the momentum is maintained and that is just a beginning of a long-term GREAT campaign helping to promote and boost trade growth in those strategic sectors.