Yorkshire woman’s drinks are poised to burst onto Chinese market

Jane Nicholls

A range of organic dairy-free drinks from a Yorkshire family business is poised to cause a stir in China, thanks to ‘origin’ specialists at Chamber International.

The drinks, created by naturopathic nutritionist and Sweet Revolution business founder Jane Nicholls have achieved UK origin status – a crucial stage for exporting into China – after tests applied by Chamber International.

Now Jane Nicholls’ range of award-winning instant hot drinks, which are registered vegan, certified organic, and free from gluten, dairy and refined cane sugar, are being distributed in China by a specialist supplier to health food shops and pharmacies.

As Sweet Revolution’s beverages, which come in hot chocolate and turmeric, matcha and Reishi Latte flavours, are created using overseas ingredients, including Vietnamese coconut milk powder, raw crystallised coconut nectar sweetening and various spices, China had to be satisfied that they were a British product. Chamber International established this by applying a number of detailed tests to demonstrate ‘substantive change’ – the rule determining a product’s origin – during manufacture.

Jane, who lives near Leeds, said: “Being able to export to China is potentially massive for us as it is a very big market and there is huge interest among consumers in healthy eating and the whole ‘free-from’ market. Also the pharmacy chain we are supplying has plans to expand into Singapore.

“Chamber International has huge practical experience that they applied to our case and they were very good to work with. I would not have known where to start without their help and advice.”

Jane Nicholls’ interest in healthy eating was fuelled when her son, Alex, suffered a dairy intolerance as a baby and she started researching natural ways to treat his condition, including studying naturopathic nutrition with the Natural Healing Foundation at Salford University.

Sweet Revolution’s first drink was its free-from hot chocolate launched in 2015, which was highly-commended at the ‘free-from’ Awards.  The other three flavours followed in 2016, with the Turmeric Latte winning ‘Most Original Product’ at the TASTE Trade Event in York in January.

The range is now available through distributors in Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Scotland and East Sussex. The business has achieved a six-figure turnover and annual double-digit sales growth by selling through health food shops, organic specialist stores and delicatessens.

Following attendance at a trade show in London, distributors were also appointed in Holland, Finland and, more recently, the Republic of Ireland. Jane said: “We are pleased to be part of huge and growing interest in all areas of health and wellness, especially among ‘Millennials’, and the links between food and good health. We are expecting sales to increase with double-digit growth during the next five years and aim to achieve 25 per cent in sales from exports.”

Chamber International’s China specialist, Matthew Grandage, says, “China’s consumers are becoming increasingly committed to the idea that it’s worth paying extra for a more balanced future – for themselves, their families and the environment as a whole.

“By paying attention to these matters in product development, careful supply chain management and marketing, British food and drink brands are winning new fans in China.  Creative organic producers like Sweet Revolution are part of this key moment in the evolution of the world’s largest food market”.

Chamber International director Tim Bailey said: “This is a good example of a smaller, new-to-export business taking all the right steps to avoid hitting regulatory barriers relating to origin in overseas markets.  Sweet Revolution’s export initiative is also well timed as forecasts show that 90 per cent of global growth will come from outside the EU and targeting more challenging markets such as the Far East.”