A Hull vegan packaged-treat brand, owned by 70-year old local baker Meagan Boyle, is planning to grow its export sales to more than 50% of its overall turnover by the end of 2019 based on growth across Australia, Europe, United States and South East Asia.
The business, named Mummy Meagz, produces vegan, gluten-free packaged treats that are free of 13 out of 14 major allergens. It offers vegan versions of popular confectionary such as ‘crème’ eggs and rocky road.
Mummy Meagz will this year seek new export partners at the International Food & Drink Event (IFE) in March, and Natural & Organic Products Europe in April, where it is exhibiting with support from International Trade Advisers (ITAs) as part of the Food is GREAT campaign.
Food is GREAT is the cross-departmental initiative between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), which aims to showcase UK food and drink overseas, and to help businesses export.
The business began exporting when it fulfilled its first order of 7,500 vegan treat bars from newly-appointed distributors in Germany and Spain. It secured these new partners after connecting with buyers at Anuga 2017 in Cologne, a major international trade show for the food and drink industry, with support from DIT ITAs.
Interest in veganism is on the rise globally according to Google Trends data. Vegan-related searches were at record levels last year, up 11% from 2017, and 35% from 2016, offering a major global opportunity for businesses producing vegan-friendly products.
The company has already connected with customers in Australia, South East Asia, Scandinavia, United States and France, after buyers in those markets found the business online and showed interest in importing its treats.
The two-year-old company is a spin-off venture from the team behind Blondes, a vegan café in Cottingham, run by Meagan and her family. Battle Oats, a fellow Hull-based snack exporter that works with DIT, and a business mentor to Meagan, inspired the team to manufacture its plant-based treats for retail. Mummy Meagz was then launched at the end of 2016 following a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Dean Adamson, son-in-law of Meagan and joint-owner of Mummy Meagz, said: “Consumers are moving away from seeing veganism as a niche way of life, with it fast becoming a popular lifestyle choice.
“This shift is creating a huge opportunity for us to export, particularly as choice for vegans remains limited in the grab-and-go confectionary market, both in the UK and overseas.
“The support we’ve had from Food is GREAT has been essential in helping us get this far on the road to international expansion. None of us come from a fast-moving-consumer-goods background, so we have no experience of selling overseas. But the support given by Defra and DIT – introducing us to buyers and providing funding to visit trade shows – has been invaluable in helping us to understand overseas markets and to target export customers. If we can do it, so can you.”
Mark Robson, head of Region – Yorkshire and the Humber, at DIT, said: “The Mummy Meagz team has taken its core competency of making delicious vegan treats for Cottingham consumers, and given it an entrepreneurial twist to market its vegan treats world-wide.
“The brand demonstrates the excellent potential to up-scale a food and drink business – from café to international FMCG brand – through exporting. The Mummy Meagz story should serve as an excellent source of inspiration for other Hull businesses aspiring to sell overseas. We have 29 ITAs dedicated to supporting Yorkshire and the Humber companies on their export journey.”
Businesses looking for support from an ITA to begin or grow their exporting should contact 0300 365 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also visit great.gov.uk, which has a number of live export opportunities currently listed, including general information on exporting and events.