Global thirst for British beer boosts Leeds brewery’s sales

Leeds-based brewery Northern Monk Brew Co has sold its products across 22 countries after just two years of exporting, boosted by a global thirst for British beer.

The brewery exports its porters and pale ales to countries including France, Japan, New Zealand and the US though collaboration with international breweries and by appointing local distributors, with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).

As part of the Food is GREAT campaign, the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) have been helping UK food and drink businesses realise their potential abroad and establish their overseas presence.

UK beer exports have risen substantially in the last few years, with Yorkshire-based beverage manufacturers more than doubling their overseas trade from £23.5m in 2012 to £58m in 2017, according to HMRC data.

Northern Monk first started exporting in 2016 when it partnered with Edge brewery, a Barcelona-based brewer. Since then, it has developed a strong footing in many global markets. In Denmark, the company regularly showcases its beers at events and festivals after developing relationships with local breweries.

The firm hopes that exporting will help it increase turnover to £4m by the end of 2018. The brewery is currently increasing its manufacturing capacity ahead of plans to expand its reach across North America.

Vasilia Venizelacou, sales and operations manager at Northern Monk Brew Co, said: “A big goal of ours is to increase our reach in the US as we continue to overcome the main challenges when exporting to such a large and competitive market.

“For example, keeping our beer fresh can be tricky, but we partner with distributors that we trust to maintain the quality of our products. Organisations like DIT have been really helpful in introducing us to distributors that can help us reach more customers in the best way possible. The support is out there to help firms like us to make a success of exporting.

“France in particular is becoming far more receptive towards craft and canned beer. We’re seeing similar trends here that happened in the UK market. A decade ago, there was a stigma among UK consumers around drinking beer out of a can. But, attitudes have changed alongside the explosion of the craft beer scene both here, in France, and across many other countries too.

“Peer-to-peer reviews have been crucial to support our growth aboard. The feedback to our beers on apps like Untappd, which lets consumers review beers, has been incredible since we began four years ago. This has helped to put us on the radar of distributors and foreign breweries when they’re looking for UK beer to stock or partner with for events.”

Mark Robson, regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber at the Department for International Trade said: “The success of Northern Monk Brew Co is an example of how firms can network and build relationships with foreign firms, even competitors, to help it enter new markets.

“Exporting is not always easy, which is why building relationships, as well as seeking support from DIT’s 29 International Trade Advisers, can help Yorkshire businesses navigate their exporting journey.”