Food and drinks firms bolster Anglo-Dutch relations at trade show

The unique relationship between East Anglian food and drink producers and Dutch consumers could bring benefits to both after Brexit.
That was the message as buyers from the Netherlands landed in Norfolk to attend the Local Flavours event at the Norfolk Showground, where 120 exhibitors showcased the best of East Anglian produce to potential new customers.

Despite feeling that their nation had “lost a friend at the Brussels table” after the Brexit vote, the Dutch delegation saw light at the end of the tunnel for British suppliers – particularly those in East Anglia, due to its close proximity and established links.

Tim Heddema, agricultural counsellor to the Netherlands, said: “What this country and the Netherlands have in common is that consumers both want high quality, speciality products.

“I visited the Royal Norfolk Show last year and was very impressed by the agri-tech farmers use here, which is much what’s happening in our nation.
“The relationship between here and the Dutch market is already so well organised that they will be ready, and because of this trade could improve in comparison to other countries.

“In the end you could inspire us, there is the potential that after Brexit, Britain may even get a better trade deal than we will have in the [EU’s] Common Agricultural Policy.”

Norwich-based solicitor Andrew Wood, East Anglia’s honorary consul for the Netherlands, added: “There are concerns, particularly from food producers, about trade tariffs which could see their product delayed from leaving the county. However the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership have the capacity to support businesses and explain the forms to them, and can direct smaller businesses to where to get further help which they may not have internally.”

Mr Wood said there could be opportunities outside the food industry for boosting Anglo-Dutch trade, such as “by looking at the European North Sea Alliance and Norfolk’s wind farms”.

Becky Norton, account manager with KLM, said the short flights between Norwich and Amsterdam could facilitate increased trade. “It’s our most regular flight out of Norwich Airport, and if the demand was there we could see more flights leaving Norwich for the Netherlands,” she said.

EDP- 02/10/18