Uncle Joe's Mint Balls in production

The manufacturers of the iconic British sweet Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls have enlisted the help of the Government’s Department for International Trade (DIT) to help them secure international trade deals in the wake of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company is working with a DIT North West International Trade Adviser, and DIT teams in British embassies around the world, setting up virtual meetings to promote the famous sweets to potential clients.

Supplies of Uncle Joe’s, which have been made at the Toffee Works in Wigan for more than 100 years, have also been sent to the British Embassy in Washington DC, USA, as a present for the new presidential administration of Joe Biden – whose nickname is Uncle Joe.

So far DIT has been in touch with its teams and partners in Norway, the UAE, Sweden, Finland, USA, Canada, the Netherlands and Kuwait. It has also supported the company’s participation in this year’s Food & Drink Exporters Association’s Export Connections virtual conference, a key event for sweet and confectionery manufacturers.

John Winnard MBE and Antony Winnard, Uncle Joe’s Joint Managing Directors, said: “DIT teams from each country will then look into ‘matches’ for us in the hope of developing our exports in their country’s markets.

“This is a fantastic initiative and we are very proud that, after our initial approach for their help and expertise in increasing our exports, DIT has chosen to work together with Uncle Joe’s and our famous sweets to show how new trade links and export deals can be generated in the post-Brexit marketplace.”

Paul Stowers, DIT Head, North West said: “Uncle Joe’s is an iconic Northern brand, and a really great product.  We’re absolutely delighted to help the company to grow its export business, and I’m sure there’s a lot more of that to come!”

John Winnard is already a Department of International Trade (DIT) Export Champion. They are selected by DIT for their dedication to growing their exports and commitment to helping other companies do the same. He was awarded his MBE for services to the UK food manufacturing industry.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) secures UK and global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment and championing free trade.

It is an international economic department, responsible for:

  • Bringing together policy, promotion and financial expertise to break down barriers to trade and investment, and help businesses succeed
  • Delivering a new trade policy framework for the UK after leaving the EU
  • Promoting British trade and investment across the world
  • Building the global appetite for British goods and services

Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls are made by Wigan-based 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 and joint Managing Directors John and Antony Winnard are the great, great nephews of the company’s founder.

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