CHINESE consumers are being encouraged to abandon the rice wine and opt for a cider instead with the head of a major drinks firm joining the Prime Minister on a current trade mission to the Asian superpower.
Aston Manor Cider which has a factory in Tiverton were invited by David Cameron’s office to be the only drinks business included in the party of trade delegates.
Aston Manor’s managing director, Gordon Johncox is representing the independent cider producer in Beijing.
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 aims to showcase British products and services and also explore the possibilities for collaboration between the two countries.
China is the largest beer market in the world. While the market for cider is presently very small by comparison, the firm hopes that considerable potential in the sector exists.
Mr Johncox 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.” He said the company was keen to use its expertise to “help develop the domestic market for cider in China.”
At the Aston Manor site on the Howden Industrial Estate, the business has invested more than £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.
The traffic is not just one-way, the UK is one of the most open countries to Chinese investment and was the most popular European destination for Chinese investment last year.