Milking new markets

UKTI helps Northern Dairy to become GREAT


After working with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), Northern Dairy Equipment has achieved overseas sales worth around £820,000 in just 2 years. The company currently employs7 people, and has a turnover of £1.75 million. It exports to 10markets, accounting for 45%of its total business.

Based in Preston, Northern Dairy Equipment Ltd. manufactures a range of unique dairy hygiene equipment to clean and sanitise cows’ teats, making milking faster and cleaner and reducing the incidence of infections like mastitis. The company has a long association with the UK’s dairy industry through its parent company Northern Dairy Supplies Ltd, which had been trading since 1989. It had distributed a similar system made by an Italian manufacturer for a few years, before Mathew Wiggans, the company’s sales director, decided to develop an improved version and produce and manufacture the system himself.

In 2004, Northern Dairy Equipment was awarded the Prince Phillip award for research and development in the field of dairy farming and won the Livestock Machinery and Equipment Award at the Livestock 2012 event. The company now has 7 employees and a turnover of £1.75 million. Around £820,000 of this comes from markets outside the UK, including Europe, the US, Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, Brazil, New Zealand, Greece, Russia and Turkey.

“The size of a dairy herd may range from between 50 to 5000 cows, so it can be a challenge to make sure they are clean and sanitised before milking,” says Brian Wiggans, managing director at Northern Dairy Equipment. “Our Teat Sanicleanse Teat Scrubber provides a reliable process in which a cow’s teats are washed, sanitised, dried and stimulated in around 10 seconds. It’s quick and easy to use, helping dairy farms provide the best quality milk and ensure that the cow herd is healthy.”

Supporting success

In January 2013, Brian came across UKTI and got in touch with the team in the North West to find out what export support was available. An International Trade Adviser (ITA) visited him and explained how UKTI helps British businesses to grow their overseas sales. Shortly after, Northern Dairy Equipment joined Gateway to Global Growth, a free service offering a programme of tailored strategic support.

Keen to visit the US and to meet face to face with a large potential customer, the ITA arranged for the company to receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund towards the cost of a market visit in 2012. On this trip, the company also exhibited at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, where a distributor was appointed who went on to secure sales across the US. This is now the company’s top export destination to date, worth over £600,000 a year.

UKTI has also helped the company attend other shows, including Eurotier in Germany in November 2014, where it connected with distributors from Portugal, Finland, Belarus and Germany. It also met a customer in Korea there, who invited Mathew and one of the company’s engineers for a 4-day tour of local dairy farms. £40,000 worth of new orders have now been exported to this market as a result.

“There’s a world of opportunity out there,” says Brian. “For example, with 11 million dairy cows, we knew the US would be a huge potential market for us. But, if you want to increase your exports, you have to be seen, to meet people and show them your products in person. In the early days, we simply couldn’t have afforded to go to international trade shows alone. UKTI’s support in getting us to events like this was crucial and has resulted in a huge boom in our overseas trade. We have met customers and dealers from around the world, who have helped us grow in their home markets.”

Continued growth

Today, Northern Dairy Equipment exports to around 10 countries. China is proving to be an up and coming market, as government plans to significantly increase the country’s milk production get under way. The company has made £63,000 worth of sales there recently, and receives ongoing enquiries from potential customers. Other strong markets include Australia (£46,000), Japan (£36,000) and Bulgaria (£27,000).It is also currently in talks with 2 more US distributors that visited its trade stand at the World Ag Expo in California in February 2015.

With the help of UKTI funding, Northern Dairy Equipment has given its website an overhaul to increase its international appeal. The company is now receiving around 10 online enquiries a month from potential customers around the world, including in Australia, Israel, Lithuania Belarus and China.

Meanwhile a new system, aimed specifically at larger herds in the US, is currently being trialled at UK dairy farms before sales begin in the summer. It was showcased at Eurotier in Hanover, Germany in 2014, where Northern Dairy Equipment secured 3 pre-orders from the US, 1 from Japan and 1 from New Zealand.

“Exports currently account for 45% of our total business,” says Brian. “If you want to do well overseas, you should visit all the exhibitions you can. Make sure your online presence is up to scratch. Back up your in-market representatives so that they can provide the best possible service – we tend to do the first installation ourselves, training our distributors so that they can do the next installation with their own staff. From getting us to trade shows to updating our website, UKTI has been a big help to our company. I would definitely advise other British businesses to get in touch with them.”

Sectors: Agriculture, Horticulture & Fisheries
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