A Scottish microbrewery is celebrating its first post-Brexit export deal with a Dutch supermarket operator.
Gluten-free specialist Bellfield Brewery has shipped its first order to Albert Heijn supermarkets in the Netherlands.
Initially the supermarket will carry all four of Bellfield’s core range in the ‘Free From’ aisles of 180 of its largest stores, in a six-month exclusive deal that’s worth six figures.
If successful, the deal could see its beers distributed across further Albert Heijn branches.
The gluten-free market is growing in the Netherlands, as well as Germany and France, although it remains smaller at present than in the UK.
The deal was sealed for at a football match last year.
Bellfield’s agent had arranged to meet the supermarket’s beer buyer at an Ajax match at the Amsterdam arena and he’d taken along some Bellfield beers. Ajax won the game and they – reportedly – shook hands on the spot.
Alistair Brown, Bellfield’s chief executive, said it was the first significant new export order for the brand in the last 18 months, due to uncertainty around Brexit-related changes and Covid-19.
“This is great news for our business and could not have come at a better time for us, after 12 months of Covid-related disruption.
“The last two years have been quiet on the export front in terms of securing new customers as they waited to see if there would be a Brexit trade agreement.
“Getting this deal over the line is testament to the quality of our beers and to the dogged determination of our in-house sales team, to overcome the challenges associated with Brexit.”
The company was supported by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, SDI and logistics specialists Albatrans and Nedcargo.
Based in Edinburgh, Bellfield has plans to expand its international presence.
The company already exports to the Netherlands, Singapore, Malta, Italy, France and the United Arab Emirates.
Prior to the pandemic, the brewery invested in new on-site production facilities to provide more flexible production capacity, strengthened its sales and marketing capability, and opened an on-site taproom with tours and tastings.
Last summer, Bellfield also launched a brand refresh by Glasgow-based Thirst Craft, designed to facilitate greater flexibility in labelling and packaging requirements and to deliver a stronger presence on crowded shelves.
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