Food manufacturers from the UK visited India for a week-long trade mission in January, organised by Santander UK, in conjunction with the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) and the Department of International Trade (DIT).

The 12 firms attending the initiative included Delamere Dairy, Provenance Brands, The English Cheesecake Company, Greene King, Iceland Foods and St James Smokehouse (Scotland) among others.

The trip was part of Santander UK’s series of international trade missions across a range of sectors and regions, aimed at helping UK businesses export and capitalise on overseas trade opportunities.

In particular, the Indian food market is forecast to grow 64% to £500 billion by 2020, indicating, according to the organisers, that “significant opportunities” exist for UK food manufacturers.

Among other things, the participating firms visited the India Food Forum in Mumbai, one of the country’s largest trade shows, where the companies showcased their products on the DIT stand.

In addition, in excess of 100 buyer meetings were arranged, with delegates able to qualify interest and secure trade deals, and a networking event held at the British Deputy High Commission.

A buyer’s symposium in Bangalore also provided the opportunity for company representatives to present to buyers from various retail and food service companies.

Ian Wright CBE, director general – Food & Drink Federation (FDF), commented: “There is no substitute for meeting new business contacts face to face, as evidenced by this latest trade mission.

“India is at the cusp of a revolution in the food consumption and processing, and the Indian government is investing heavily in the sector and infrastructure to support a fast-growth market. We are seeing diverse companies tapping into areas of interest to take advantage of these opportunities, and the hope is that the UK will become a primary trading partner for India.”

Andrew Williams, head of food & drink – Santander Corporate & Commercial, added: “The Indian food and drink sector is at the start of a significant period of growth and Santander, along with stakeholders such as the FDF and the UK government, see incredible opportunities for UK food and drink firms.

“We are confident that the 12 firms that attended the trade mission will benefit from this growth. India is one of world’s fastest-growing markets, with 1.3 billion consumers and improving disposable income levels, increasing numbers of middle class consumers and demand for high quality food products from the UK.