Wyke Farms currently has a presence in around 100 countries across the globe

Wyke Farms currently has a presence in around 100 countries across the globe

UK independent dairy firm Wyke Farms has said that it is hoping to secure a more permanent listing with Wal-Mart Stores in the US this year.

Speaking at the Nantwich Show 2011 in Cheshire yesterday (26 July), Wyke Farms MD Richard Clothier told just-food that the firm made a push into the US last year with a Christmas listing of its vintage cheese at Wal-Mart.

"That went very well," Clothier said. "That was the top-end Ivy Vintage Reserve, so that was quite pleasing. Hopefully we can do that again this Christmas and maybe look towards a permanent listing for that."

Clothier said Wyke Farms could look to acquisitions in the US in order to help achieve further growth.

"We would consider [acquisitions] on export possibly, some export vehicles, in regions like the US where someone has got a good foothold and distribution channels. That is something we would definitely be interested in looking for," Clothier said.

Wyke Farms has a presence in around 100 countries across the globe - a footprint that Clothier said had been achieved quicker than expected.

"We have grown in different areas than we thought we would. Back in 2008 I maybe wouldn't have envisaged the Chinese market and some of the Far Eastern markets to have opened up to us as quickly as they have," Clothier said. "So those are markets that we have got into quite quickly and grown some fairly sensible volume in. The other area that has opened up for us unexpectedly is Australia where they weren't importing a lot of cheddar back in 2008. They are importing quite a lot of vintage cheddar now and our Ivy is on all the shelves at Woolworths Ltd and Coles."

Around 10% of Wyke's total business is generated in export markets, with around 40% of that in France.

Russia, however, has proved a more difficult market for Wyke Farms, with the company facing contractual demands from local distributors.

"Some of the Russian markets are proving tough," Clothier said. "The import base seems to be quite consolidated - the distributors over there are quite consolidated and what they tend to want is exclusivity across the region and it's quite a risky thing for us to entertain exclusivity in a region as big as Russia."

He added: "If it was a smaller country or one of the Soviet states then it's not so bad, but when someone says they want the whole continent then you need to be really sure that they are going to do the business."

Nonetheless, for any new market, Clothier says that the biggest challenge is gaining listings.

"It's a slow burner the export thing, there are big opportunities but it's not something you are just going to turn up and do, it's something that you have to work away at," he said "It's like towing a truck, the first most difficult thing is to get it moving. Once you get it rolling, it develops some of its own momentum. You get into a region and, once you start to get the momentum, start pushing the product through, you start to get some pull-back and it starts to draw itself through but the initial listing is the most difficult part."