To mark Organic September, we spoke to a company based in Bristol which manufactures natural food ingredient solutions. Organic September is a month-long campaign which aims to raise awareness of organic products, and the brands, producers and farmers who bring them to us in the UK.
Plant-Ex has successfully exported to Morocco with support from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and over the next five years, expects to export £500,000 worth of orders to the market with sales predicted to grow by 20% year on year.
Giles Drewett started Plant-Ex in 2010 after gaining experience in the food flavouring industry. In 1996, he went on a year’s work experience placement in Slovenia where he was responsible for selling essential oils used in fragrances and flavours. From there his interest grew and he set up his own business.
The company has four product divisions: natural colours, flavours, extracts which impart flavour, and food protection which involves using natural extracts to increase the shelf life of products.
“We are one step behind the food manufacturing sector, so we will supply companies who are making different food products. One example is that we take vinegar and dry it into a powder form to make salt and vinegar crisps.”
The company is audited by the Organic Food Federation to meet the criteria of organic and show that its systems and procedures are compliant to avoid cross contamination between non-organic and organic foods.
The company began exporting to Morocco after Giles visited the country and met with a distributor in Casa Blanca. He says:
“Morocco is one of the most well organised markets in Africa in terms of logistics, freight and monetary compliance. We just started exporting to Kenya and they have quite stringent requirements in comparison.
“The only drawback is that from a payment point of view, I’ve found its less secure than some European countries. However, we utilised DIT to give us advice on credit insurance which really gave us the confidence to step into the Moroccan market.
“Our International Trade Adviser (ITA), Hilary Charman, is very good as connecting us with people and providing us with information and advice whenever we need it.”
Giles offers three pieces of advice for companies looking to export to Morocco:
“Get your credit insurance sorted and make sure you have some knowledge of the French language. Lastly, it’s important to be confident as it is a sophisticated economy.”
Giles says it is beneficial to be aware of the cultural differences before approaching the market:
“In my experience Moroccans are masters in the art of negotiating. Anyone who has been to the Souks of Marrakesh knows this.
“If you approach it in a strait-laced manner this probably isn’t the right route. It’s important to develop a relationship and be willing to discuss options.”
The company is also exporting to Spain, the Ukraine and Benelux. Giles says its important to spread your company across a range of markets to mitigate risk and ensure that a fall in sales in one market does not affect the entire business.
Get in touch
To discuss your own export options with one of DIT’s International Trade Advisers in the South West contact 01275 774 456 or visit www.great.gov.uk to find out more about the range of support available as well as live export opportunities. DIT’s services in the South West are delivered by Business West. For further information, click here.