Aston Manor Cider accepted an invitation from the Prime Minister’s office to be the only drinks business included in the current trade mission to China.
Representing the UK’s largest independent cider maker is Aston Manor’s managing director, Gordon Johncox.
The four-day trip is Britain’s largest overseas trade and ministerial mission and is intended to create export opportunities and foster greater links between the UK and China.
Gordon Johncox was delighted that Aston Manor Cider was selected to be part of the delegation. He said: “This is clearly a major undertaking by the Government, so to be included is recognition of the quality of our products.
“More than that, and particularly exciting for us, is that it also identifies that we are a business with the capability and ambition to secure the export and partnership opportunities that exist – both in China and elsewhere.”
The trip will showcase British products and services and also explore the possibilities for collaboration between the two countries.
Given the extent of the programme, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is actually being moved back and will be presented to parliament on Friday.
China is the largest beer market in the world. Whilst the market for cider is presently very small by comparison, the independent cider producer hopes that considerable potential exists.
Gordon Johncox for Aston Manor added: “We presently export to around 14 countries and we intend to double both the number of places we export to and the volume of cider we send.
“China is not presently somewhere we have a presence, so we are especially keen to develop contacts on this trip. We are open to finding a partner to import our products and also to explore the option to use our expertise to help develop the domestic market for cider in China.”
Aston Manor Cider has a track record of investment to create employment and business success. In November it unveiled an entirely new multi-million pound fruit processing facility at Stourport-on-Severn.
This site is necessary to cope with the apples that will be delivered as a result of the planting of 1,000 acres of new orchards (in Herefordshire), announced in April 2013.
On a conservative estimate, the fruit from just these new orchards will see Aston Manor invest over £50m into the UK rural economy through the 25-year term of the contracts agreed with farmers and growers.
At the Aston Manor site in Tiverton, Devon, the business has invested over £10m in three years to upgrade the facility. This investment has dramatically increased the capacity and capability of the site, and as a result the employment and production at the site has been doubled.
Lord Livingston, minister at UK Trade & Investment, said: "More and more UK companies are selling their products and services to China with exports almost doubling since 2009 - reaching more than £1 billion per month. The UK is one of the most open countries to Chinese investment and was the most popular European destination for Chinese investment last year.
"The raft of deals shows that the UK and China truly are partners for growth - China's growing appetite for British expertise proves that the UK is one of the most attractive inward investment destinations in the world.
"UK Trade & Investment stands ready to support companies of all sizes that want to take their first steps into this rapidly expanding market and is actively showcasing all that the UK has to offer to Chinese companies looking for business opportunities overseas."
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