Thursday, 13 March 2014

GREAT Week for quality beef in Hong Kong

Developing new markets for UK beef and lamb is a key part of our strategy to get the best returns for our levy payers, but the resources of our export team are limited. Going it alone in some of the non-EU markets we are working so hard to develop can prove a challenge.

It’s for this reason that events like GREAT Week Hong Kong & Macau, organised by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which has taken place this week, are a great example of how we can benefit from synergies through working with other agencies.

GREAT Week involved nearly 20 companies from the UK food and drink industry, together with a similar number of representatives from luxury and retail companies, taking part in a UKTI-organised trade mission. It included a busy programme of briefings, meetings and visits designed to enable UK companies to better understand the market in Hong Kong and Macau, and profile their products to buyers from these vibrant economies.

With Hong Kong being a key target market for UK beef, while Macau is just being opened to our products, we chose to partner UKTI on the mission, taking part in the GREAT Week together with three UK beef and lamb suppliers.

The facts and figures for these markets make impressive reading – luxury is where it’s at in Hong Kong and Macau, as they reap the benefits of their increasingly affluent next-door-neighbours in mainland China. Hong Kong is often described as China’s shopping mall and is experiencing unprecedented growth in the luxury market, with its share of the global market predicted to grow from 2.4 per cent to six per cent between 2012 and 2020.

Macau is the only part of China where gambling is legal and, as a result of this, is growing at a startling rate. In 2013, it attracted 29.3 million visitors, the vast majority of whom were Chinese and had come to take advantage of Macao’s many casinos. In 2006, Macau overtook Las Vegas to become the world’s number one casino city. It continues to grow at a rate of around 10 per cent a year and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Jason Atherton addresses the audience
These markets offer valuable opportunities for UK companies prepared to invest their time and resource in figuring out what makes them tick. In addition, their proximity to mainland China cannot be ignored. Provenance, heritage and exclusivity are all key attributes for successful products in these markets - these values chime nicely with the Great Britain brand that UKTI are working hard to build and fit well with our quality, grass-fed product.

As well as having the opportunity to showcase quality beef from England at a number of events, including serving it at a gala dinner, we also used the week as an opportunity to launch a promotion for quality beef from England in four restaurants in Hong Kong. Supported by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, who was acting as an ambassador for GREAT Week, nearly 30 Hong Kong journalists attended the event together with other invited guests. Photos from the launch can be viewed on our Facebook page.

Making significant inroads and building market share in countries which are so different from the UK (not to mention an 11-hour flight away!) is always going to be slow progress, but by making the most of opportunities like the GREAT Week, we can ensure we champion quality beef from England across the globe and  gradually build our market share as we get access.