A DRINKS producer, which experienced a 600 per cent uplift in orders since it began exporting to China and Honk Kong last year, is ramping up production after buying a new manufacturing facility in Ryedale.

The SBCO Group, owners of The Baijiu Society, completed a seven-figure deal to buy the facility in Cropton to increase production of its beer and drinks infused with the essence of the Chinese spirit baijiu, which it exports to East Asia. The facility is also the SBCO Group’s new headquarters.

On top of the acquisition, the SBCO Group also plans to increase export sales with the opening of a new sales office in Shanghai, following the opening of its Hong Kong office last year.

The two Chinese outposts will help launch the The Baijiu Society’s new range of canned, pre-mixed baijiu-infused versions of classic cocktails, and support the business’ established Baijiu Beer range, which will be produced in Cropton for export to China and Hong Kong.

The SBCO Group has experienced strong growth in its export business over the past 12 months. It completed its first export order of 12,000 beers to Asia in January 2018 after attending the Food and Hotel China (FHC) trade show. It now ships 25,000 bottles of its beer to the continent each month, which are sold in super-casinos and luxury hotels.

The brewer exhibited at FHC as part of a Northern Powerhouse trade mission supported by the Food is GREAT campaign, the UK Government’s cross department initiative by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT). The campaign aims to showcase UK food and drink overseas and supports firms to export their products.

In 2019, the The Baijiu Society also plans to make its first footprints in the US market, and to expand sales in the UK and Asia.

Craig Butler, managing director at SBCO and The Baijiu Society, said: “Despite baijiu being the world’s most consumed spirit, it is almost exclusively purchased and enjoyed by its traditional older consumers in China.

“We’re introducing baijiu to a younger demographic in China, Hong Kong and the West by reimagining the spirit in new ways with our range of infused drinks. Our experience in Asia means we’re able to do this but maintain a respect for the drink and its unique place in Chinese culture.

“Visiting trade shows with the support of Defra and DIT has been a major catalyst to our success in the Chinese market. Alongside exhibiting at FHC, we met with lots of trusted buyers at the China International Import Expo.

Mark Robson, head of UK Regions – Yorkshire and Humber, at the DIT, said: “This brewery at the foot of the North York Moors has developed an excellent understanding of Greater Chinese markets, including the differences between mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

“With its range of beers, and new range of cocktails and spirits, The Baijiu Society has demonstrated how a British product can be re-imagined with a Chinese twist. They have proved the demand for British products, tailored for the tastes of China.

“DIT has 29 International Trade Advisors working across Yorkshire to help firms like The Baijiu Society build their understanding of overseas markets and become more prosperous exporters. ITAs can help local firms gather overseas market intelligence, find trusted buyers, overcome logistical barriers and more.”