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USA, Hong Kong, Germany and Sweden… Aberdeenshire producer’s drinks hit the global stage

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Aberdeenshire artisan drinks manufacturer Summerhouse Drinks’ products are now hitting shelves all over the world.

Summerhouse Drinks’ hand-crafted lemonades and Walter Gregor’s tonic waters are now sitting alongside household names in stores in the United States, Hong Kong, Sweden and Germany.

And with repeat orders coming in from Texas the future for the brands being exported internationally looks bright.

Formed by Claire Rennie in 2014, Summerhouse Drinks is based on the Rennie family farm, Manse Farm at Peathill, near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

The Walter Gregor’s Tonic range was added to the portfolio a year later and the brands have continued to go from strength to strength.

Some of the Walter Gregor’s Tonic range.

Exports

A decision was made last year to try and break into international markets and Claire teamed up with Ryan McCue of Food Export International to help make that happen.

Claire said: “At the end of 2019 we really decided to take our exporting a bit more seriously and we started working with Food Export International who are basically export managers for hire so Ryan is our part-time export manager.

“The last three months have been the fruition of a year or so of hard work trying to identify what markets we should be going into, finding potential customers and getting samples out to customers.”

Claire Rennie of Summerhouse Drinks and Walter Gregor’s Tonic.

And repeat orders from the United States of America, along with additional orders from Sweden, Germany and Hong Kong have made the efforts worthwhile.

“We had been working over last year with Central Market who have a small range of supermarkets in Texas and we put our lemonades out to them. We are now about to start our fourth order with them which is great,” Claire revealed.

“I love repeat orders because it means that people like the drinks and they keep coming back which is brilliant.

“Then we procured a customer in Hong Kong who has taken both of our Walter Gregor’s Tonics and our Summerhouse Drinks. They work predominantly online so lockdowns are not really affecting their business, but they also supply the hospitality trade in Hong Kong so that’s really exciting.

The Summerhouse Drinks range.

“It’s really exciting to see how that goes. We sent a container out to Hong Kong with a 20-pallet order.

“Last year we were working with a distributor in Sweden and they took the Walter Gregor’s Tonic. That has been working so well that they took Summerhouse Drinks as well and we did a recent order for them topping up their tonic and introducing our Summerhouse Drinks, including our ginger beer.”

On the continent

And the latest international move has seen Aberdeenshire produced drinks sitting on the shelves of Szene supermarkets in Germany.

Claire continued: “We also sent a couple of paletts out to Germany for a customer there as a trial and we will see how that works in the German market. That is another really exciting toe in the water there.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s just keeping true to yourself and keeping the production values that we have. Keeping on your own course and not worrying about what other people are doing, remaining confident that people appreciate our flavours once they get them.

“For our customer in Sweden to appreciate the Walter Gregor’s Tonic which gave them the confidence to take on Summerhouse Drinks is fantastic as well.”

The latest news comes after Walter Gregor’s apple and cinnamon tonic water was featured on Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Weekend show.

And that followed their neep tonic being paired with Ogilvy’s potato vodka on Saturday Kitchen a few weeks earlier.

A container taking Summerhouse Drinks products to Hong Kong being loaded up.

Of the latest TV appearance, Claire added: “That worked quite well and we are still getting orders coming in from that.

“It hasn’t been a big hit and then tailed off. It has been a bit of a slow burn which is great. People must watch it on ITV player quite a lot.

“When you are just in the middle of things sometimes you forget how far you have come. You just concentrate on bringing out a quality product and telling the truth. We make the products ourselves on the farm – there is no bigger story than that to tell and it’s a good story to tell.”


Read more on the brands…

‘TV appearances are like buses’: Rum do for Walter Gregor’s Tonic as they hit the small screen again

Artisan food and drink producers see huge sales upsurge after products praised on Saturday Kitchen

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