Westons is talking up its export opportunities

Westons is talking up its export opportunities

A Westons director has said cider can make a breakthrough in China, but the group’s key export focus remains Australia.

Speaking to just-drinks on the sidelines of a media briefing in London today (24 April), Roger Jackson, Westons’ commercial director, said: “We already export to China and I believe there is an opportunity there. A lot of Chinese drinkers don’t know it (cider). 

“It’s very easy to be seduced by the scale of the prize because there are so many consumers, but I believe it will happen in China (for cider). But how, and at what speed, I don’t know.”

Westons exports its brands to 40 markets globally, with Finland its biggest market, followed by Germany and Australia. International sales by value are around 6.5% of the company's business. 

Jackson said: “We are laying a lot on Australia as it continues to boom (for cider).  It’s being driven by premium craft ciders and locally-produced brands.” Westons last year made its first international acquisition, buying Melborne-based World Brands Australia. 

“Because of buying this business, it’s very much part of our strategy,” he said. 

Jackson also revealed that Westons would like to gain a footing in a locally-produced Australian cider brand, either through an acquisition or JV. He suggested the company could even link-up with one of a number of Australian wine producers now making cider. 

On the company’s US prospects, the Westons' director said: “We have an agent there and we’re working on it, but we understand the US less than Australia.” 

The group's export sales are growing at double digits, ahead of its domestic business in the under-pressure UK market.  

Looking ahead, Jackson said Westons is targeting group sales of GBP100m (US$152.6m) by 2022. 

Last month, the company announced a GBP5m marketing campaign for its Stowford Press brand, which is co-sponsor of this year's UK Ashes series.