PEOPLE in coffee-loving Scandinavia could be sipping Dorset tea as a local producer looks to step up its export programme.

Ferndown-headquartered tea manufacturer Keith Spicer is getting government help to expand in the region.

Advisers from the Department for International Trade (DIT) supported the company last year in securing a distribution and export deal in Sweden. It will now seek to take the company’s brands, including Dorset Tea and Tea India, to Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Keith Spicer’s international sales manager, Paul Sutton, said: “We’ve been selling tea in the UK since 1934, but have only recently started to capitalise on the growing demand for British food and drink overseas. If we can be successful through exporting, others can too.

“Although selling our tea internationally has been hugely rewarding for the company, it’s certainly not been without its challenges.

“We’re constantly working to strengthen our foothold in what is a very competitive market, and a key part of this is being able to develop a network of contacts wherever we go. DIT has been invaluable in advising us on who to speak to in new countries, and in helping us secure all-important meetings with buyers and distributors.

“We’ve also had to be careful that our teas meet the food regulations of each country we sell to, particularly in the ingredients we use. Having a partner like DIT who understands the ins and outs of each market’s requirements makes the process far easier to navigate.”

Keith Spicer is based in Cobham Way, Ferndown, where its flavoured teas are blended and produced. Its black tea brands, including Dorset Tea, are now made in Newcastle.

Coffee has long been the dominant beverage in Scandinavia, with Danish people drinking 8.7kg of it per head in 2016, compared with 0.15kg for tea.

The support for Keith Spicer’s export programme was part of the Food is GREAT campaign, a programme run by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and DIT.

In 2017, food and drink exports from the south west totalled £810million, an increase of eight per cent on 2016.

Keith Spicer has seen exports rise in the last three years after entering 20 new international markets, including Malaysia, the Czech Republic, Chile, Spain, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Paul Shand, DIT’s head of south west, said: “Keith Spicer is a great example of a local business that has found huge success in overseas markets.

“Exporting has helped the company become more profitable and resilient, and the team has been quick to take advantage of the wealth of support available for businesses looking to start, or grow, their overseas trade.

“We have a dedicated team of International Trade Advisers on the ground across the South West who are committed to helping businesses like Keith Spicer make its products a global success. I’d encourage anyone who is interested in seeing how their business could benefit from exporting to get in touch.”