Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) was announced as ‘Exporter of the Year’ in the ‘partnership in trading’ category at the International Business Awards last night (Monday 3 December) – in the presence of HRH The Duke of York.
The awards, which aim to encourage and recognise the very best of British export by showcasing British innovation, enterprise and international business acumen, are a joint initiative between DTI’s Trade Partners UK and Nexus Business Communications. Other award winners included Harry Potter author, J K Rowling.
Awards judge Grant Collier of Export Times magazine said: “We received an extremely high level of entries and the quality of those entries was superb. HGCA demonstrated an outstanding contribution to British agriculture at this challenging time and we were very impressed with its commitment to the export markets.”
Alan Almond, director of business development at HGCA, commented: “This is a first for HGCA and brilliant recognition of the industry’s hard work in opening up new export markets – and maintaining them at a time when the strong pound and consumer concerns makes it more difficult.
“It is thanks to the efforts of the industry as a whole that the UK has turned round from being heavily dependent on imported cereals in the 1970s, into one of the top 10 world exporters of wheat, barley and oats. We are extremely grateful to all those organisations and companies that support our activities.”
HGCA has two export teams: British Cereal Exports which promotes home-produced grain overseas, and British Cereal Products which develops markets for UK-processed products, at home and abroad.
In partnership with the industry, HGCA’s successes include increasing the UK’s share of the Spanish wheat market, opening up the Chinese market for malting barley and getting British milling wheat into Northern European bakeries.
The export market for cereal-based food and drink products has doubled over the past 10 years and is now a massive 3.3 million tonnes a year, making a significant contribution to the UK trade balance. HGCA-supported promotions have included UK-produced pastry to Italy, sandwiches to Germany, beer to USA and biscuits to Japan.
Dr Almond concludes: “An important aspect of HGCA’s work is to help growers meet the needs of export markets – whether it is for milling, malting or animal feed. They need to know what the market wants and our customers need to know what is available. In the past five years the proportion of high-value baking wheat has increased from 55 to 80% of the crop.
“Much of our on-going effort will be focussing on opportunities in North Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. We have exciting plans for the future including a milling wheat for export event in February and our next breadbaking workshop in Spain in May where bakers and buyers have an opportunity to see firsthand just how well UK wheats perform.”