A Cumbrian brewery is hoping exports to China and Japan will help it continue its rapid growth.
Eden Brewery, now based in Penrith’s Gilwilly Industrial Estate after a move from Brougham Hall, is hoping to double or even triple its turnover in the next few years.
But managing director Jason Hill says that the Cumbrian market has reached “saturation point” for brewers so growth must come from exports or through bottle and can sales at larger retailers.
The brewery is struggling to keep up with demand with sales at Booths and now the Co-op soaring, he says, adding: “Volumes through supermarkets this year have been substantial which means that we are failing dismally with our plan to stock 250 cases of each beer. It’s just going out of the door too quickly.”
At its new base, Eden Brewery has the capacity to produce 5600 litres of beer every week, a big increase on its small output when it started out in 2012 and the new premises has space for further expansion.
Now Jason and his small team of six staff are focusing on diversifying their range and finding new markets.
“Our strategy is to look at where we can see growth. We could go and fight it out in Cumbria and be on a hiding to nothing, but if we really want to grow we’ve got to look outside the county.
“In the future we will be focused on Cumbria as a cask market, which is very much our roots, but we are not going to do cask in other areas. Growth is really coming from bottle and can products and the introduction of one way keg,” he adds.
Jason was in Japan earlier this year at Asia’s largest food and drink exhibition and is in talks with several potential customers there and in November will be going to China.
It’s all change in the domestic market too with the growth of the craft ale market with drinkers looking for beers with big flavours such which gives Jason and his brewing team license to experiment.
“The UK market has traditional drinkers on the one hand and the craft ale drinkers on the other who want more hoppy, flavoursome beers - something different such as beers with coconut or fruit and big, punchy flavours - that give brewers the time to explore,” he says.