UK firm Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls gains its first Japanese order

UK sweet manufacturer Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls has recorded its first major order from Japan, as the business seeks to expand its overseas operations and meet increased demands for British confectionery.

According to the company, the deal for around 6,000 tins and bags of traditional and sugar free Mint Balls, has been secured with Tokyo-based importer and distributor Beau & Bon Ltd.

The British company’s series will be distributed to department stores and other high-end retail outlets alongside other premium UK brands such as English tea, Cornish fudge and Welsh jam. Groundwork for the deal was secured after Beau & Bon saw Uncle Joe’s products at The Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest specialty food industry event in North America, held in New York in June.

Beau & Bon Ltd managing director Maeda Mitsuhiro signed the deal after visiting The Toffee Works, the Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls factory in Wigan.

Uncle Joe’s products will also be showcased at the Japan Supermarket Trade Show next February and Beau & Bon Ltd managing director Maeda Mitsuhiro said: “We are hoping to develop a long-term relationship with Uncle Joe’s and its products.”

John Winnard, Joint Managing Director of Uncle Joe’s, said: “British premium brands are very much in demand in Japan, especially when they have history and tradition.

“Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls fits that demand perfectly and we are looking forward to a long and successful partnership with Beau & Bon.”

Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls are made by William Santus and Co Ltd, a privately-owned traditional sweet company that was established in 1898. The ownership has been passed down through the family generations.

The Mint Balls are still manufactured using the same traditional methods as when Mrs Santus originally made the sweets in her kitchen in 1898.

As the company noted, it is enjoying its best ever sales period despite Brexit uncertainty, believing that consumers are  seek comfort from affordable confectionery luxuries amid challenging economic times.

Bosses at Wigan-based William Santus and Co Ltd, which produces the iconic Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls, said the rise mirrored similar sales peaks during the financial crash in 2008 and the Winter of Discontent in 1978-79.

This year has been a particularly notable one for the business, with a visit from HRH Prince Charles in April, who enjoyed a tour of the Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls factory in Wigan to celebrate the centenary of The Toffee Works. He saw how the sweets were manufactured and met Joint Managing Directors Antony Winnard and John Winnard MBE, the great, great nephews of the company’s founder, William Santus.

The completely natural “secret recipe” has been passed down through the family generations. Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls contain no artificial additives or colours, they are GM free, gluten free and are suitable for the vegetarian/vegan market.

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