LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced new export sales and a new distribution partnership for Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, while on his trade and marketing mission to Europe. The partnership is with American Craft Beer Company, a UK-based representative of craft breweries from the United States. Today is the first day Hardywood Park beer is available for sale in the United Kingdom and the Governor attended a launch event at a brewpub owned by Scottish-based brewery BrewDog.
"This is an exciting new growth opportunity for Hardywood Park, one of Virginia's largest and most well-respected craft breweries, into the world's second largest export market for U.S. craft beer,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I am thrilled that our efforts to introduce Virginia companies to export opportunities continue to pay off. After meeting American Craft Beer Company here in London last year and then hosting them in Virginia, it is a pleasure to be back in London to announce their new relationship with Hardywood Park. In order to build the new Virginia economy we need to keep working with companies like Hardywood to open new markets and sales opportunities outside of our borders."
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery was first introduced to their new partner during a tour of Virginia breweries for European beer buyers in September 2016. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) organized the visit following a meeting between American Craft Beer Company and Governor McAuliffe during a trade mission to the UK last July. The VDACS European representative office identified American Craft Beer Company as a potential UK partner for Virginia breweries and made the initial introduction to VDACS staff in early 2016.
"This new partnership for Hardywood Park is a testament to the world-class quality of their craft beer, the entire craft beer industry in Virginia, and to the hard work of this brewery and the VDACS international team," said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden. "The craft beer industry contributes over $1 billion to the Commonwealth's economy each year and breweries like Hardywood Park are important purchasers of Virginia agricultural products as inputs to their beer, including malted barley, hops, honey, ginger, blackberries and other fruits. Export sales like this one will ensure that this contribution continues for many years to come."
Hardywood Park was started in 2011 by co-founders Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh, who are also in London for their UK launch. The brewery is also a participant in the Virginia Economic Development Partnership's 2-year Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program. "We are excited for this new partnership with American Craft Beer Company and our first sales into the UK market," commented Eric McKay. "As a Virginia company we are fortunate to have access to the top notch resources and expertise of both the VDACS and VEDP international trade teams and are thankful to them and to Governor McAuliffe's office for being such avid supporters of our international efforts. We look forward to utilizing their services to expand into additional markets in the coming years."
Co-founders Mark Smith and Ed Firth started American Craft Beer Company, based in West Midlands, England, in 2012 and represent a small, targeted number of US craft beer brands in the UK market. Speaking about the new export deal, Ed Firth said "As we build our brand portfolio, we are being very selective about the breweries we bring into this quickly growing, competitive market. We were impressed by the quality of craft beer we experienced while in Virginia, and are particularly excited to have Hardywood Park on board with our program. Meeting them through VDACS's efforts was a great benefit, as it certainly would have been more difficult and taken much longer to find them on our own."
Agriculture and forestry exports from Virginia were valued at $2.78 billion in 2016 and the UK was the fourth largest market for these products from Virginia last year. The Commonwealth exported almost $140 million in agriculture and forestry products to the UK in 2016. In April the Brewers Association, the non-profit trade association representing the US craft beer industry, announced that the UK had risen to second place as an export destination for US craft beer, taking 10.1% of the total export market share.