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Promoting British Beer in Cologne


On 07/10/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)


I flew to Cologne at the weekend for ANUGA, one of the largest food and drink festivals in Europe. I was there at the invitation of UK Trade & Investment who asked me to attend the launch of the UK Food and Drink International Action Plan with Owen Paterson MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. We have been working with UKTI for some months now to develop a beer action plan as part of their export strategy and at this event they launched a plan to assist up to 200 alcohol producers to export more, with a targeted programme of inward and outward business visits to grow exports internationally.


Upon arrival at Kolnsky, I knew I was in the right place when I saw the Great British Mini, decked out in the Union Jack sitting on the forecourt. Inside was the Secretary of State and his Ministerial party. Not one to hold back when the opportunity arises, I introduced myself and we were whisked to the 28th floor for the launch.


It was an impressive evening. A whole range of British companies and organisations, many of whom had stands at the trade fair, were present. Owen Paterson spoke (in German as well as English). He talked about a food and drink industry worth £9.6 billion to the EU economy and £18 billion in exports. He had recently attended launches in New York, Moscow and Shanghai and was today launching the international action plan. He talked about biscuits, inevitably whisky, but finally beer. Armed with the statistics I had given him earlier, he told the assembled audience that beer exports in 2012 were worth £570 million - I glowed with pride! He stayed all evening, came back and asked me if there was anyone I wished him to meet - there was clear support for us as a category.


Whilst none of our largest members were present, there were a considerable number of micro-breweries who either had stands, or were part of larger buying groups. Bath Ales, Butcombe Brewery, Strathaven Ales, Wharfebank Brewery, Nick Stafford representing both SIBA and Hambleton Ales, Oakham Ales, Ampleforth Abbey (which I always thought was a school, but it also provides a licence for the brewing of a rather interesting dark stout) and Cairngorm brewery who allowed me to try Ginger Rodent, brewed for Danny Alexander MP, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.


I talked with Owen Paterson about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP – the ongoing trade deal negotiations between the EU and US) and export barriers with the US. He will shortly be visiting Shepherd Neame to open a water treatment plant, so we will have another opportunity to influence his thinking!



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