Specialist UK cheese exporter Somerdale International has turned its attention to expanding its reach in new markets and is placing a particular emphasis on developing its business in China and Southeast Asia.

The company, which was founded in 1990, currently exports around 3,000 classic British cheeses to over 50 countries around the world. The group focuses on traditional British cheeses and its range of over 250 different products range from cheddars and Stiltons to Wensleydales and other UK regional cheeses.

Somerdale’s largest market is the US, where it supplies cheeses into Publix supermarkets. However, the company has increased its focus on strengthening its operations elsewhere, company founder and director Stephen Waldron tells just-food. Somerdale already ships cheeses to the Middle East, the Caribbean, India and Australia and the group began shipping products to China this year.

The group is particularly keen to expand its business in Australasia and to this end Somerdale recently opened an Australian sales office, which will act as a base of operations as the group looks to drive growth in the region.

Speaking to just-food from Hong Kong trade show Hofex, Waldron says: “Our main market has been the USA, but in the past twelve months we have opened an office in Australia, and have focused our growth in China and SE Asia.”

Waldron reveals that the company is targeting this region due to growing demand, which is being driven by demographic and economic drivers – rising incomes and a growing middle class – as well as an increased uptake of western-style consumption patterns.

“The growing middle class with a disposable income have been looking for Western products and wine and cheese have been in demand,” he explains.

Waldron emphasises that British cheeses are already widely available and accepted by Hong Kong consumers and Somerdale already imports cheeses into the Hong Kong market.

The company therefore plans to use the trade show as a means to develop contacts in other countries in the region.

“Hong Kong already has a great selection of British cheeses, but at this show we hope to meet importers from the region – such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia – as well as Hong Kong based buyers. It’s a fairly new market for us but we do have a very attractive range of products to exhibit.”