A Scottish microbrewery is celebrating its first post-Brexit export deal with a Dutch supermarket
Bellfield Brewery, the gluten-free specialist brewery, has successfully shipped its first order to Albert Heijn supermarkets in Netherlands. Initially the supermarket will carry all four of Bellfield’s core range in the ‘Free From’ aisles of 180 of its largest stores, in a 6-month exclusive deal that’s worth six figures. The core range comprises Lawless Village IPA, Bohemian Pilsner, Craft Lager and Session Ale. All four beers have won awards, including in mainstream beer categories. If successful, the deal could see Bellfield beers distributed across further Albert Heijn branches. Albert Heijn is extending its “free from” offer in its top stores as the Dutch market for gluten-free and vegan products starts to take off. The gluten-free market is growing in the Netherlands as well as Germany and France, although it remains smaller at present than in the UK. The Albert Heijn deal was sealed for Bellfield at a football match last year. Bellfield’s agent had arranged to meet the supermarket’s beer buyer at an Ajax match at the Amsterdam arena and he’d taken along some Bellfield beers. Ajax won the game, everyone loved the beers and they - reportedly - shook hands on the deal, on the spot.
Speaking about the deal, Alistair Brown, Bellfield’s CEO, said it was the first significant new export order for the brand in the last 18 months due to uncertainty around Brexit-related changes and COVID-19. He said:
“This is great news for our business and could not have come at a better time for us, after 12 months of Covid-related disruption. Our aim remains to grow our brand, in the UK and internationally, consolidating our reputation for producing great-tasting beers that everyone can enjoy. This is an important step for us.
“We’re very pleased - and proud - that our beers are now on the shelves of Dutch supermarkets.
“The last two years have been quiet on the export front in terms of securing new customers as they waited to see if there would be a Brexit trade agreement.
“Getting this deal over the line is testament to the quality of our beers and to the dogged determination of our in-house sales team, to overcome the challenges associated with Brexit.
“We also had superb support from the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, SDI and excellent service from shipping and logistics specialists Albatrans and Nedcargo, who delivered the first shipment of our beers through the new system from Scotland to the Netherlands in just 4 days.
Based in Edinburgh, Bellfield has ambitious plans to expand its international presence. The company already exports to the Netherlands, Singapore, Malta, Italy, France and UAE.
Prior to the pandemic, the fast-growing brewery invested heavily in new on-site production facilities to provide more flexible production capacity, strengthened its sales and marketing capability and opened an on-site Taproom with tours and tastings.
Last summer, mid pandemic, Bellfield Brewery launched a brand refresh by Glasgow-based Thirst Craft, designed to facilitate greater flexibility in labelling and packaging requirements and to deliver a stronger presence on crowded shelves.
In the last 12 months, Bellfield has launched a number of new beers in a variety of formats from 5 litre mini casks to cans: Jex-Blake IPA (5.6% ABV): a golden-coloured IPA single-hopped with 'Mosaic'; Daft Days Porter (5.5% ABV): an inky-black, full-bodied ale with mid level bitterness and a rich, malty finish and Eighty Shilling (4.8% ABV): a classic Scottish heavy, this dark ale is designed for cask, showcasing a malt-forward flavour profile and low bitterness to emphasise a full-bodied malty finish.
Bellfield also launched a new beer - Rational Creatures IPA, to mark International Womens’ Day 2021. A tropical, juicy, double dry hopped IPA (4.3 % ABV), it has been crafted by the women of Bellfield.
Lucky Spence Pale - a flavoursome and aromatic modern session pale ale, with a lush, fruity hop character and an assertive bitterness.(3.5% ABV) was designed as a refreshing, early summer beer. It’s now out in 5 litre mini casks and will go into keg, for the taproom reopening on 26th April 2021.