GRAHAM’S The Family Dairy has revealed plans to build a major export business, with its managing director highlighting opportunities to sell butter to China, Japan, and South Korea and win sales in the Middle East.

Robert Graham revealed the family company was poised to achieve exports of £2 million in its current financial year to March 2017, from a “standing start”.

He also flagged significant potential in overseas markets closer to home, highlighting the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Belgium.

The dairy company has appointed Joe Flynn as international business manager to develop relationships and increase its export revenues further. Mr Flynn has joined from jam to Fray Bentos pie manufacturer Baxters Food Group.

Graham’s, based at Bridge of Allan in Stirlingshire, said Mr Flynn had “devised then implemented international strategy” for Baxters’ operations in Europe, North America and Australia.

It noted that Mr Flynn had, before joining Baxters in spring 2015, worked for four years for Premier Foods, and had previously been with Irn-Bru manufacturer AG Barr for 22 years.

Graham’s already exports a range of products, including butter, cottage cheese, cream cheese and protein-rich soft cheese quark, to the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, France, Spain, the UAE, and Belgium.

Mr Graham noted that he had, on a recent trip to Dubai, been surprised to see cottage cheese produced by his company on the shelves of a Carrefour supermarket, and underlined the potential to sell a range of products into the UAE.

He noted that the acquisition by Graham’s of Glenfield Dairy in Fife, from First Milk, had brought with it some export business.

Asked when he had recognised the export potential of Graham’s, he replied: “I think it has always been something I would like to do but [it was] just a case of priority.”

Referring to Mr Flynn’s appointment, he said: “[We] decided it was worth putting the investment in someone very senior, someone who knows their way around.”

Mr Graham added: “I think there is lots of opportunity out in the UAE. I think there is opportunity further out, South Korea, China. There is real opportunity out there as well.”

He highlighted butter as the focus for future sales to South Korea and China. He also flagged potential to sell butter to Japan.

Mr Graham also highlighted strong demand for quark in Europe.

He also noted that Graham’s had recently exported butter to Lebanon, and achieved sales into Malta.

Projecting Graham’s would achieve exports of about £2m in the year to March 2017, he said: “We are pretty much going from zero, to this, in the first year…

“This is really going from very much a standing start. Some of this is coming from the acquisition of the Glenfield business from First Milk. They already had some export sales.”

Highlighting his high hopes on the export front, Mr Graham added: “I think there is a lot to go at. It comes back to having great products…I am excited.”

Emphasising Graham’s still had to win its “home battles”, he highlighted his aim of increasing his company’s share of the spreadable butter market in Scotland.

Danish brand Lurpak is the biggest-selling spreadable butter in Scotland, followed by Anchor, and then Graham’s, the managing director noted.

Graham’s employs more than 600 people. It made pre-tax profits of £1.6m on sales of £86.5m in the year to March 2015, the latest period for which accounts are available.

Mr Flynn said: “The global market for dairy products is significant and expanding and I look forward to working with my colleagues at Graham’s to explore international business opportunities, and feel confident that we are well placed to grow our business rapidly overseas.”