Norfolk Firms Poland Expedition.
Published: 28 Oct 2013
With the government encouraging UK businesses to expand their horizons and look to overseas markets to grow their businesses a group of Norfolk businesses, with complementary businesses products and services and supplying the agriculture and food processing industry, have recently returned from a market visit to Warsaw, Poland.
The businesses are at different stages of developing their overseas offerings. The idea of sending over a group with the same target audience was to not only assist UKTI's team at the Warsaw Embassy in identifying potential customers for the group (by focusing on a specific business category) but to also to give the Norfolk businesses an opportunity to get to know each other with a view to working together longer term.
Poland had been identified as a country which is easily accessible and is part of the European Union. It is growing fast as a country, exporting food produce and is buying in technology to improve processes.
The Norfolk visitors included a diverse range of products and services with a common goal. They all supplied into the food production chain.
Companies on the trip
Redpack Manufacturers of flow wrap machines (Rackheath)
Fresh Pod Ethylene removers from fresh fruit and vegetable stores (Thetford)
KMS Hot melt manufacturers and suppliers to the food processing companies (Watton)
Britannia Training Health and Safety training and consultancy services to the food industry (Wymondham)
Enviro-Pod Transport and storage material technology to reduce energy consumption (Norwich)
Solutions Electrical Installations Solutions Ltd (Downham Market)
Poland is one of nine Emerging European Countries and identified by UKTI as a good target for UK companies looking to trade globally. Poland is one of several with strong Norfolk links, with Poland supplying a high proportion of workers into the agricultural sector in the county. It is also easily accessible with daily flights from Stanstead.
The group was supported by UKTI and local overseas advisor Alan Highet. Alan works with local businesses to identify markets and supply support services to get businesses exporting. The Poland trip was a diversion from the usual way UKTI work with businesses and it was appreciated that the regional UKTI team were able to "try something different".
A reception was held at the British Embassy in Warsaw. The local Polish Chamber of Commerce presented facts and figures on the country's food industry and offered support to the group moving forward. The UKTI staff at the Embassy arranged an afternoon session of "meet the buyers" where retailers, growers, processors, recruitment companies and others attended to learn more about the UK product and services available from the Norfolk firms. A reception late afternoon presented a networking event with local chamber members.
"Poland is an exciting market with a wealth of opportunities across all the sectors. Food and drink has a strong manufacturing base in Poland and there are numerous opportunities around food health and safety, technologically advanced equipment and supply change management. Whilst this was just an initial visit, the companies found out how easy it is to get to Poland and arrange another visit to follow up on the contacts they made". Ewa van Veenendaal-Rawicz, Deputy Director, UK Trade & Investment, British Embassy, Poland.
Returning from the mission the companies are currently following up contacts made. The group will also be swapping contact details of anyone they met who others may not have had time to meet on the day. It is hoped working like this each company will be able to make full use of the trip and contacts made. Ongoing, and should there be sufficient interest and based on the Polish experience, then it is hoped that similar overseas trips can be set up.
"For a relatively short visit, UKTI and the British Embassy set up a constructive presentation and reception for the small trade delegation. Although the numbers of potential buyers attending were modest in numbers, the quality was good. We came away with a much clearer understanding of the business culture and business potential in Poland as a result. Suffice to say that a follow up visit is currently being planned to look specifically at a couple of potential projects" Steve Neeves, MD, Electrical Installation Solutions Ltd.
"Thousands of Polish people live and work in the UK with a high concentration of agricultural workers in the Eastern counties. Whilst to date we have delivered food hygiene, first aid and other training requirements solely into the UK food sector, we believe there is an opportunity to work with recruitment companies and others in Poland to ensure migrant workers heading for the UK have the relevant safety accreditations to start work immediately on arrival. Making the recruitment and training process much simpler for UK companies employing overseas staff. The trip was useful with recruitment connections made as well as meeting several members of the local Chamber and Embassy willing to assist my business". Colin Wright, MD, Britannia Training.
"Poland is the third biggest apple growing nation in the world and a preliminary meeting with some Polish growers at Fruit Logistica in February suggested that Poland would be a good place to expand into. Having met with several growers at the Embassy it was clear that they are looking for technology to help them manage their storage and logistics better. The Polish growers were knowledgeable, receptive and keen to implement new technology into their businesses. I am currently in follow up talks with both growers and Producer Organisations which I hope will result in new export business for us". Mike Brown, Fresh Pod.
The group will look to work closer together exploring other potential overseas opportunities, sharing thoughts and other information closer to home and proving that businesses can make the most of public sector support.
To find out more on how the food sector supply group work together contact Mike Brown on 01603 702374 for more information on UKTI support contact Alan Highet on 07545 020351.