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How can Swedish food exporters succeed in the UK?

On the 30th of March, Business Sweden gathered Swedish companies and UK market experts for a full day of insights and networking to facilitate Swedish grocery companies’ export journey to the UK. The full day consisted of several segments, all covering different aspects of the UK food retail market and first-hand knowledge on how to prepare and grow on the UK market.
  1. Trend update by project manager Amanda Hallberg and British marketing and packaging expert Tessa Stuart

    In food retailing, the “big four” (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons) dominate the market with over 70% combined market share. The UK grocery market is highly competitive and growth is strongly driven by digital development. New trends observed are health awareness, plant based products and an increased focus on reducing food waste.

  2. Gaining insights on how to get products onto the UK shelves by visiting three retailer stores in London

    Relevant aisles were visited together with Tessa Stuart who gave hands-on advice on how to stand out and convey the message on the product to attract UK consumers. A clear message, image adapted to the UK market, bold colours and correct language (preferably only English) are some key factors for success. As well as the courage to be different!

  3. Panel discussion and individual meetings with four UK market experts

    Petty Wood (distributor), Tree of Life (wholesaler), Scott Winston (former buyer at Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols) and CloseUp PR (food PR consultancy) shared insights.


Key takeaways from the panel discussion


Success stories: Brands that have succeeded in entering the UK market have all been persistent, well prepared and had a long-term plan for market engagement. As a Swedish food supplier, you should know your target audience, how to reach them and how to stay relevant.

Common mistakes: Locally adapting packaging and language is crucial to enter the shelves in the UK. Once you are on the shelf it is not a matter of sitting back and letting the product do the job by itself. The expert panel stressed the importance of managing to stay on the shelf over a longer period of time. Furthermore, suppliers should not forget to calculate margins, transport and marketing costs.

What retailer buyers expect from suppliers: Expectations and way of working vary between different retailers. It is important to have knowledge about your target retailers.

What Brexit means for the UK grocery sector: Retailers are accepting rising costs for now due to Brexit. They focus more on long-term strategies. Retailers and consumers in the UK will struggle due to higher costs, however, London is expected to keep being a different case.

Having the collective results from insights and networking during the day, the participating Swedish suppliers now have several new business opportunities to explore on the UK market. They all received positive response from the market representatives and have input on a potential market entry and growth plan. Due to the well-received day both on the Swedish and British side, Business Sweden will organise a similar day in conjunction with Ocado’s TrySwedish! shop in autumn. Keep an eye out for this insightful event!

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Amanda Hallberg

Project Manager Project Manager
+44 20 7258 5133
E-mail Amanda.Hallberg@business-sweden.se