Cast your mind back two decades, to a time when the zeitgeist was dominated by Blair, Blur...and beef. Who can forget? After a link was established between "mad cow disease" (or BSE) and vCJD, the European Commission imposed a worldwide ban on British beef exports in the late 1990s.
More than 20 years later, British beef is back - and the timing is impeccable.
Lest you think this is a load of bullocks, here are the facts. In a deal estimated to be worth £250 million to British farmers and producers in the first five years alone, China is ending its ban on beef imports from the UK. The move comes after Chinese officials inspected meat-processing plants in the UK last month and a trade visit was made to China by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier in the year.
The numbers look promising.
China is the world's second biggest beef importer, with 700,000 tonnes brought in last year, and demand for beef is expected to continue rising with ongoing improvements in Chinese livelihoods and dietary patterns. Indeed beef is now the fastest-growing meat in China. China is already the UK's eight biggest export market for agrifood: in 2017 Chinese consumers purchased more than £560m worth of British food and drink.
Here's how to have a stake in all of this:
- Do keep in mind local tastes. Fat-rich beef ribs are popular as they are used in hotpot meals, and Chinese consumers are increasingly concerned with meat that is premium, organic, traceable, as well as impact on animal welfare.
- Chinese consumers are especially attracted to products flying the British flag, according to a report on Brand Britain, so don't be cowed by the opportunity to show off your product's Britishness through visual branding!
- The same Brand Britain report reveals that Chinese consumers would pay more for goods in the UK because they perceive their quality as higher. The report explains that China has had issues with contaminated food, which may account for attaching more importance to quality, reliability and trust expected in British products. So consider this in your product pricing strategy and messaging.
- Tell your udderly fantastic story through digital. China's mobile messaging app WeChat now has more than 1 billion monthly active users, and 902 million daily active users, while the social network Sina Weibo has more than 500 million registered users. We can help you get started.
You've herd what we've had to say, but before you join the stampede to China do talk to us first. We are here to help!