Two west Highland firms are targeting the world’s biggest market for new sales,
J. Lawrie and Sons, of Mallaig, hopes US consumers will acquire a passion for its traditionally smoked seafood.
Nevis Bakery, based at Corpach, near Fort William, aims to follow up recent exports of its shortbread to China with orders from America.
Both businesses are looking to benefit from a trade mission to New York this week.
J. Lawrie’s Jeff Lawrie, the fourth generation of the family-owned firm, is in the Big Apple to highlight his company’s seafood range, including its Mallaig kippers and Drambuie-glazed smoked salmon.
He has teamed up with people from other Scots firms who are in the city as part of an EU-funded scheme delivered by organisations including public-private partnership Scotland Food and Drink (SFD).
SFD’s “Access 6” export programme covers training, mentoring and market visits, with the goal of securing business from North America’s retail and foodservice sector.
This week’s fact-finding tour includes a visit to the renowned Summer Fancy Food Fair and meetings with industry contacts in Manhattan.
Nevis Bakery is not represented in New York but is part of Access 6, which managing director Archie Paterson told the Press and Journal could lead to new export opportunities.
Mr Paterson said: “We are talking to contacts out there who will source customers for us, but everything is being done by e-mail just now.”
Last year, Nevis Bakery sent half a tonne of its shortbread to Beijing as it took its first steps in a potentially massive new market in the Far East.
The firm, which employs 23 people, is turning its attention to the US just as it celebrates a deal – initially worth about £7,000 – to supply Selfridges with shortbread to be sold under the prestigious London department store’s own label.
North America is one of six areas of focus for Access 6 and its market-specific clusters of Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish small and medium-sized enterprises.
Food and drink firms have also visited Brussels, Berlin, Paris, London and Stockholm under the scheme.
SFD industry development director Amanda Brown said: “North America presents a really diverse market, with fantastic potential for the food and drink producers involved.
“The training and mentoring provided by Access 6 will offer invaluable insight into what could be an exceptionally lucrative export opportunity.
“I am delighted that J. Lawrie & Sons was able to join the group…and gain some valuable insight into the programme as we continue to upskill and open doors for Scottish food and drink business interested in growing their export potential.”
Recent figures from HM Revenue and Customs show the US was Scotland’s biggest overseas export market in the year to March 31.
Ms Brown said: “This market it is all about provenance and premium quality, and this is where the real opportunities lies for Scottish food and drink companies.
“But with each different state demanding a unique approach it is not without its challenges which make programmes like Access 6, vital in assisting companies looking to gain a foothold in the market.
“The intensive programme will equip the participants with all the tools they need to forge a way into the North American market, and the diverse array of produce is sure to appeal to customers across the US.”