Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham has received a visit from a delegation of Slovenian beer lovers in a vintage Volkswagen camper van turned into a mobile bar after winning an export contract with a major Slovenian retail chain.
The ‘Beer Bulli’ van’s visit is the result of a partnership between Slovenian retailer Mercator and the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Exporting is GREAT campaign, an ongoing initiative to encourage and inspire firms across the UK to export.
The van is currently on a 10-day road trip from Slovenia to the UK and back again to promote the best of British craft beer to the Slovenian market, while also giving British brewers a taste of Slovenian beer.
Earlier this year, Hogs Back was one of four British breweries from a shortlist of 70 selected by Mercator and its customers to participate in a showcase of British beers in the chain’s outlets.
The brewery was recommended for the showcase by DIT trade advisers, who worked together with staff at the British Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia to introduce the brewery’s ‘Hogstar’ craft lager to Mercator’s team.
The Beer Bulli van will visit each of the four breweries featured in the showcase, including Bath’s Electric Bear Brewery, Bungay’s St. Peter’s Brewery and Newport’s Tiny Rebel Brewery.
Hogs Back decided to begin exporting after recognising the potential for increased profitability and resilience through overseas opportunities. Since the end of last year, the business has begun exporting to Finland, France, Trinidad & Tobago, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, and Singapore.
The company is now looking to expand into the Chinese market over the next six months.
Colin Cordy, export manager, Hogs Back Brewery, said: “Exporting is a natural decision for UK brewers that have interesting beers, and are looking for a pathway to growth. Although we’ve only been exporting at low volume for the last few months, and despite the craft beer market being highly competitive, we’re already finding that there’s a huge demand for our products abroad.
“We’ve had a relationship with DIT for a couple of years, and it’s helped us identify new export opportunities, as well as develop relationships with partners and buyers overseas. This visit by the Beer Bulli van is all on the back of our products being featured in the Mercator British beer showcase, which DIT and the British Chamber of Commerce helped to organise. We’re looking forward to seeing how we can build on this relationship to expand our presence in the Slovenian market, as well as expanding further afield.
“Exporting has its challenges, but there’s a wealth of support out there. If a company like ours from Tongham can find success overseas, others can too.”
Ben Raby, head of UK regions, South East, Department for International Trade, said: “The Beer Bulli van’s visit is just one indicator of the thirst for British beer overseas. Last year, exports of beer from the UK totalled over £517 million, with exports to Slovenia alone totalling more than £450,000.
“Hogs Back Brewery has been quick to capitalise on the support available for firms looking to start or grow their export activity. This includes regular trade missions to key markets of interest, as well as access to our network of International Trade Advisers, based on the ground across the South East.
“These trade experts can help companies navigate everything from issues of logistics and tax to intellectual property, and are supported by staff in British consulates and embassies worldwide. I’m urging anyone interested to get in touch and see where exporting can take you.”
Firms looking for support should call 0330 300 0012 or email email@example.com. They can also visit great.gov.ukk, which has information on live export opportunities and includes general information on exporting and events.