China specialist urges more Scottish food and drink companies to wake up to the world’s second biggest economy

Scottish food and drink companies are missing out on huge opportunities in the burgeoning Chinese market, according to a specialist digital agency which has just returned from successfully exhibiting at one of the country’s biggest trade shows.

Scottish-based Zudu, the first local company to tailor digital strategies for breaking into the lucrative Chinese sector, was part of a trade mission at the colossal Food and Hotel China event, which attracted 91,000 trade buyers and 2,450 exhibiting companies from 69 countries.

The exhibition focuses exclusively on imported and top-quality products, making it the benchmark event for international companies wishing to collaborate with markets in China and the wider Asian sphere. Next year’s event will host 120,000 buyers and 3,500 companies.

However, Scottish companies this year were conspicuous by their absence, according to Zudu Managing Director James Buchan, whose participation was supported by the UK’s Department of International Trade and Dundee City Council.

He said: “Food and drink is one of Scotland’s most important export sectors, with £4.8 billion of sales in 2015 and £6 billion estimated for 2017. But you would not have known it from Scottish attendance at what is one of the major events in the sector calendar.

“We would have liked to see a lot more Scottish companies ready to take advantage of the opportunities on offer, especially since there are so many support networks available to help companies navigate new markets.

“This is particularly important in food and drink, but there are many more areas where innovative and expansionist Scottish exporters could be driving growth by targeting Chinese consumers.”

Another one of Zudu’s main areas of focus is Tourism, which generates around £12 billion of economic activity for the wider Scottish supply chain, contributes around £6 billion to GDP and supports more than 217,000 jobs.

Mr Buchan said: “We are at the dawning of the Chinese tourism explosion with a middle class who are increasingly independent travellers. Scottish cities and tourist attractions have not typically focused on targeting Chinese consumers and there are steps they can take to attract visitors and transform their experience.”

Zudu specialises in developing solutions which optimise digital presence and protect UK companies wishing to enter the Chinese market. Assistance is vital because there are a range of issues, both in language and culture, as well as unfamiliar Chinese social media and eCommerce platforms.