I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Harrap, Head of Collaboration at Lye Cross Farm. With the launch of their Grass-fed Sharp Cheddar just days away, and following an award by Dr Liam Fox MP at the BOFTA’s  we wanted to hear their export story.

Name:  Tim Harrap

Company:  Lye Cross Farm

Position:  Head of Collaboration

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

After work and travel in Australia, Asia, and East Africa I became involved with exporting food with Dorset Cereals in the mid-1990’s.  During three years there I opened up 12 new markets and secured two Cereal Exporter of the Year Awards and the Queens Award for Exports.  By 1999 I had moved back into the dairy industry exporting for North Downs Dairy. 

That exporting experience was then transferred to Lye Cross Farm in 2012.  Cheese exports now account for 30% of the total dairy business.  50% of volume goes into the EU with significant other business in South Korea and the USA.

Can you share an interesting exporting story that has happened to you since you became a leader or started your company?

Since the advent of the internet and www, I have been a strong advocate of networking across platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.  The need to have an open approach to dialogue with people across the globe is of the utmost importance.  Hiding behind the parapet will not build bridges to success – however, you measure it.

What advice would you give to a founder or CEO who is just starting their exporting journey?

The same rules that have applied forever and a day.  If you have never exported stay close to home and speak to the Benelux countries, to Ireland.  Once you have started the export trail, confidence to deal with markets further afield will multiply – people love to trade – use their energy to achieve export success

Can you share any stories or examples of how your company is making a difference to others, or how you’re making an influence in your sector?

Alvis Bros.Ltd have had a long term commitment to educating children on our farms so they understand where their food comes from.  Senior Management at Alvis Bros.Ltd  have a long history of undertaking and supporting Nuffield International Farming Scholarships. We often host visit Nuffield scholars at Lye Cross Farm to share experiences.

Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 3 Exporting Trends Over The Next 3 Years”

  1. The Pacific Rim will continue to be the focus of export opportunities – this is where the money has gone.
  2. Certifying of production methods to give consumers confidence when buying food products
  3. Sustainable production processes whether in agriculture, packing or shipping
  4. Using “2” in marketing the authenticity and provenance of your product and “local” story

What are the medium to long term objectives that you’re focusing on at your company and how will you achieve this?

OAs a farming business it is in the Alvis Family DNA to operate with sustainability mindset for our farms, our farmer suppliers and the cheese business.  As a bespoke cheesemaker, we are small enough to be able to carve out profitable niche products such as the recent launch of 100% Grass Fed Cheddar.  Maintaining this flexibility into the future is paramount.