Exports – why we should all be doing it

Charles BaughanWe come from the West Country and we think our little corner is a pretty fine place. It has the uplands of the moors, the lush river valleys, the isolated fishing harbours and chocolate box villages. Food and drink is a vital sector, with around 15% of all jobs in the region and some 2,500 companies.

Tourism accounts for £127bn and 9% of the UK GDP; it is vital to the UK economy. Here in the south west the links between the food and drink sector and tourism are everywhere. We are a great destination for ‘foodies’ looking to explore the region and what it has to offer.

We have been selling our sausages all over the world for around 10 years and I have been lucky enough to travel widely. I show pictures of where we live and work to people in Asia and they cannot believe such a place exists; it makes me wonder if we should run a travel agency promoting West Country tours as a sideline.

Exports started as a whim, from a single website enquiry. Now they are an important additional string to our bow. It does take commitment, it is a long-term venture and, I would suggest, it is not for the faint-hearted on occasions. But what exports have done for us is brought a whole new dynamic to our company. The question used to be “why?”; now it is “why not?” We take an enquiry from East Timor, South Korea or Cape Verde in our stride. We harvest ideas, concepts and real innovation from markets the world over and adapt these for use here at home. And, furthermore, we have made some really great friends.

On a trip to the Algarve, I saw a billboard for a supermarket we supply with the slogan ‘Quality in every detail’. To my mind it sums up the approach we must adopt in the new global market, we must be dependable and this is never more the case when your customer is 7,000 miles away.  

As I jump on another plane, heading for distant markets with my frying pan, I am desperately proud of Great Britain, our sausages and the West Country. I really feel like a modern-day explorer and it puts a definite spring in my step and a smile on my face. If you are not exporting, I suggest you ask yourself “why not?”.

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