Craft Beer Clan of Scotland, the international division of Glasgow-based wholesaler JW Filshill, has further expanded in emerging markets including China, Hong Kong and Dubai, securing business worth £200,000 for several Scottish craft brewers including Inveralmond, WEST, Drygate, Deeside and Windswept.
Established 18 months ago to help ambitious Scottish craft brewers and distillers penetrate key markets initially in the Asia Pacific region and targeting a £2.5 million annual turnover within three years, Craft Beer Clan is now working with 22 brewers and four craft distillers from across Scotland. In addition to China, Hong Kong and Dubai, the company has also brokered deals with leading importers in Taiwan and secured its first orders in Thailand and Panama.
“We attended the key WhiskyL exhibition in Beijing and Shanghai in August with the Single Malt Club, our distributor in China,” said Chris Miller, head of export and commercial operations at JW Filshill International. “The Chinese market is key to our international growth as consumers there are hugely interested in Scotland and have a particular appetite for Scotch whisky as well as premium food and drink products.
“Craft beer offers these consumers a similar story to that of Scotch – the skill that goes into making it, the individuals and families who lovingly craft it and the wider story behind it. It’s a great selling point for us and there were exceptionally high levels of interest in our beers in both Beijing and Shanghai. The Craft Beer Clan website is also now available in Mandarin as part of our strategy to engage with these key global markets.”
At WhiskyL, Miller and JW Filshill International’s chief executive Simon Hannah used the opportunity to network with the Single Malt Club China (SMCC) which has recently collaborated with the Scottish Government to create a new £3 million fund to allow Chinese whisky connoisseurs to invest in some of Scotland’s rarest drams. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently opened SMCC’s new Whisky Experience Centre in Beijing during a trade visit.
Miller and Hannah also travelled to Thailand where they met with the country’s leading importer of beers, wines and spirits, securing a deal to promote a range of Scottish craft beers in a three-month promotion starting in early December.
Craft Beer Clan, meanwhile, is in advanced negotiations with a new importer in Taiwan where there is considerable interest in Scottish food and drink products. “We’re pursing new relationships with distributors all the time,” said Miller, “and we’re also making good progress in Scandinavia, Canada, North America and Australia. We also recently shipped orders to Swizterland and Denmark.
“We continue to work closely with Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise and Scotland Food & Drink – these collaborations are hugely important for Craft Beer Clan both overseas and from a domestic perspective,” Miller continued. “Being able to tap into SDI’s people on the ground in places like Beijing and Shanghai has been invaluable.”
Earlier this month, Craft Beer Clan participated in the high-profile Showcasing Scotland event at Gleneagles where Miller had 15 meetings with prospective importers from the USA, Scandinavia, Russia, Switzerland, Spain and Thailand over two days.
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, described the progress being made by Craft Beer Clan as a “great example of the collaborative efforts we’re seeing across the food and drink sector”. He said: “Collaboration was very much a focus of last week’s Showcasing Scotland – the most important trade event in this year’s food and drink calendar.
“The event presented an outstanding business opportunity for Craft Beer Clan and some of our most innovative, established and emerging food and drink manufacturers, and I expect all of them to benefit from a multi-million pound sales boost. The fact that Craft Beer Clan was able to secure 15 meetings with global buyers is testament to the team effort of the event organisers – Scottish Development International, Scotland Food & Drink, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise – and a fantastic example of collaboration within our industry.”
The Craft Beer Clan breweries include: William Bros Brewing Company; Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery; Inveralmond Brewery; Deeside Brewery; West; Drygate Brewing Co; Caledonian Brewery; Loch Ness Brewery; Lerwick Brewery; Speyside Craft Brewery; Black Wolf Brewery; Brewmeister, Broughton Ales; Fyne Ales; Jaw Brew; Knops Beer Company; Loch Lomond Brewery; Stewart Brewing; Tennent Caledonian; Bottle Cap Brewery; Windswept Brewing Co; and WooHa Brewing Company.
Member distillers are Strathleven Distillers; The Glasgow Distillery Company; Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery; and Arbikie.