National Curry Week was set up in 1998 to celebrate the diverse culture in the UK and the many delicious dishes available to us as a result.
To celebrate the South West’s Indian cuisine, we spoke to Bini Ludlow, founder of Bini Fine Foods which has just exported its first overseas samples to Denmark with the support of The Department for International Trade (DIT).
Bini first started her Sweet Cumin Indian cookery school six years ago in her kitchen with a budget of £200. While looking for a new career, she saw the demand for having ready prepared Indian meals that also use high-quality, authentic ingredients.
Since 2013, she has achieved 12 Great Taste awards, with her cookery school being featured in The Guardian as the Top Indian Food Course in the UK.
Since 2017, she has been working on globalising her brand, receiving mentoring from her International Trade Adviser (ITA), Hilary Charman.
Commenting on the export support she has received from DIT she said:
“I attended a programme with Hilary about how to approach the customer, what you need to do to start trading and building contacts and that was really valuable because there were other people in the same boat and we could share ideas.”
Her products received interest in Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, and Bahrain, with DIT colleagues overseas commenting on the quality of the food and strength of the brand.
Commenting on Bini's achievements her ITA, Hilary Charman, said:
“Bini is one of the hardest workers ever seen on a DIT beginner exporter programme, from learning how to internationalise her website and marketing offer, to responding to export opportunities, negotiating with potential overseas customers, attending our Meet the Buyer sessions, adding her profile to The Great British Food Programme, and attending meetings of the South West Food Cluster.
“Her motivation, passion and the strength of her product assures me of her export success in the future.”
With DIT’s support, Bini has researched and reached out to freight forwarders of frozen foods, investigated alternative routes to market, and selling in larger quantities – for example for hotel catering. She has recently just sent 90 meals worth of samples to an enthusiastic buyer in Scandinavia, with the promise of larger orders if successful.
When asked about the ultimate goal of her business, she said:
“My aim has always been to export my products and see how far I could take them. With DIT’s support, I have learnt how to develop my social media to engage an international audience whilst developing my sales strategy and building my brand.
“I was getting a lot of doors closing on me and the advisers really helped me learn how to find the right people to approach to start exporting my product.”