Water-to-Go, a Bedfordshire company that produces filtered water bottles, has secured its first contract in China, worth more than £90,000, with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) in the East of England.
It will supply 3,000 bottles to outdoors retailer Kailas, to be sold in a number of its stores, following a major launch event in Shanghai earlier this year.
Established in 2010, Water-to-Go uses technology originally developed by NASA to filter contaminants including viruses and chemicals from water. Its products are popular here in the UK for removing chlorine and fluoride from tap water, but can also be used in environments where water is unsafe to drink, as all microbiological contaminants are filtered to result in clean drinking water.
The company is marking its move into the Chinese market by partnering with extreme athlete Ash Dykes, who will complete a world record breaking walk along the Yangtze River.
“Working with DIT helped us to think strategically about our approach to exporting.”
The Welsh adventurer is set to be the first person ever to walk the full 4,000 miles of the Yangtze, the longest river in Asia and third longest in the world. Along the way, he will drink from the river using his Water-to-Go filter bottle and distribute the bottles to communities and schools. He will talk with local people about using environmentally friendly products like reusable bottles.
After identifying emerging opportunities in China where water pollution is a growing concern, DIT introduced the business to representatives at the Chinese British Business Council (CBBC) and staff at the British Consulate. These contacts helped Water-to-Go to establish itself in the country and supported its launch event in Shanghai.
The business began working with DIT in 2016 and now exports to 55 countries including Mexico, India and Canada.
“If we can see our products on sale at stores across the globe, so can other local businesses of all sizes and sectors.”
Dave Shanks, founder and managing director at Water-to-Go, said: “In 2015, more than 80% of the water in China’s major rivers was declared undrinkable – a clear signal of the need for a sustainable product like ours.
“Working with DIT helped us to think strategically about our approach to exporting. We initially struggled with choosing the right market and establishing the contacts to kickstart sales. DIT has a wealth of insight and contacts that make it possible for smaller companies to start selling abroad.
“We also got advice from DIT around aid-funded projects and e-commerce which has supported our current work in South America and our plans to do more in developing countries. If we can see our products on sale at stores across the globe, so can other local businesses of all sizes and sectors.”
Anton Rudgalvis, Export Growth Adviser at Department for International Trade in the East of England, said: “Water-to-Go uses highly developed technology in its filter bottles and there’s strong demand for the product internationally.
“For businesses like Water-to-Go that are looking to increase or start exporting, we have 30 International Trade Advisers based in the region that are available to help businesses of all sizes either start exporting, or exploring new markets. We also offer practical support such as training or introduction to local contacts, as well as helping to identify new opportunities in new markets.”
Exemplas Trade Services Ltd (ETSL) has delivered the contract for the Department for International Trade (formerly UK Trade and Investment) in the East of England for almost a decade.
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