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Truss hails Essex pig farm that has doubled pork exports

6th Jul 2020 / By Alistair Driver

An Essex farm business that has doubled pork exports revenues during the COVID-19 lockdown has been singled out by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss as a UK export success story.

Fergus HowieWith pubs and restaurants reopening on Saturday, Wicks Manor is now starting to resume supplying its premium pork products to foodservice establishments across the country. But during lockdown, the family farm business faced a sharp drop in sales to pubs and restaurants, which typically account for 45% of its revenue.

However, since April, its exports to customers worldwide have doubled, including a surge in demand for its premium bacon and sausages in the Middle East and Asia. The business had sought support from the Department for International Trade to ramp up its exports to supermarkets in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Owner Fergus Howie (pictured with Fergus Howie with Wicks Manor distributors for Singapore and Hong Kong) said international trade had provided a lifeline during the pandemic. “Our exports would usually account for 20% of sales, however since April we have been able increase them to 40%,” he said.

“The importance of diversifying our sales across different markets has been laid bare during this difficult time. We are now focused on maintaining export growth while preparing to return to supplying pubs and restaurants.

“We’re grateful to the Department for International Trade for the support they have provided in securing new routes to market, and I would certainly encourage other UK food producers to do the same.”

The business started exporting in 2010, when it secured a contract with a supermarket in Dubai. Since then it has expanded to 10 new markets in Asia, Middle East and Europe, where its products are especially popular with British expats missing a taste of home.

Thanks to the recent export growth, the family business has been able to maintain nearly a full staff count of 45 employees and avoid food going to waste during the pandemic.

In a press release, Ms Truss said:  “Even in these challenging times, businesses like Wicks Manor are showing that there is clear appetite for British produce around the world.

“Exporting will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery from the Coronavirus, and my department is committed to delivering greater export opportunities for UK businesses through new free trade agreements.

“Now, more than ever, we need UK businesses to follow in the footsteps of exporters like Wicks Manor and showcase their produce on the world stage”.