Far eastern delight for Wigan's Uncle Joe's Mint Balls!

John Winnard (left) and Maeda Mitsuhiro from Beau & Bon
John Winnard (left) and Maeda Mitsuhiro from Beau & Bon

Uncle Joe is celebrating his first major deal with the Far East.

For William Santus and Co has secured a significant Mint Balls order from Japan, to help meet the country’s demand for quality British products.

The deal, starting with an initial consignment of almost 6,000 tins and bags of traditional and sugar-free Mint Balls, has been secured with Tokyo-based importer and distributor Beau & Bon Ltd.

Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls will be distributed to department stores and other high-end retail outlets alongside other premium British brands such as English tea, Cornish fudge and Welsh jam.

The deal was secured after Beau & Bon saw Uncle Joe’s products at The Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest speciality 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 the Dorning Street business, 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.”

The deal is a reward for persistence on the part of the Wigan firm. It has tried to break into the Japanese market before, most notably 21 years ago when it event made a more diminutive version of the Mint Ball for smaller Japanese mouths but they did not catch on on that occasion.

William Santus and Co Ltd is a privately-owned traditional sweet company that was established in 1898 and whose ownership has been passed down through the family generations since.

The Mint Balls are still manufactured using the same traditional methods as when Mrs Santus originally made the sweets in her kitchen in 1898.

In April Prince Charles enjoyed a tour of the factory in Wigan to celebrate the centenary of The Toffee Works.

He saw how the sweets were manufactured and met joint MDs Antony and John Winnard, the great, great-nephews of company 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.