Top tips from local food and drink businesses on exporting

Charlie Garnham
Marketing Campaigns Manager | Business West
23rd December 2016

Exporting is a scary word.  Have you dismissed the idea because you feel like you are walking into the unknown?  Every fear can be overcome by hard work, patience and persistence and the results can be staggering.  

We asked some of the food and drink brands we work with to share their top exporting tips  and what they wish they knew before they started their journey across the globe.

Be Persistent

Mark Taylor, Director of Filbert’s Fine Foods in Glastonbury says “exporting produces some very good long term growth results. That said, it’s hard work getting there!  It may take longer than expected so don’t give up, and make sure that you manage expectations in the market you are targeting and don’t let your domestic customers down. 

But persistence does pay off!  We experienced +150% growth in export sales in 2015 and this year we are on target for a further 100% growth. Brexit has lead to us to becoming more competitive, because our products are now more affordable, so there really is no limit to what we can plan for the future


Be Thorough

Nick Bildner, Sales Director of Pulsin’ Ltd based in Gloucester says “we have found that if you are targeting a large territory like Germany it's important to research the market thoroughly. This involves desk research and a trip to the territory to analyse key factors that will help your decision making. These include understanding the route to market, distribution channels, key wholesalers and retailers. It is vital to research store staff and understand consumer perceptions of your product offering in that territory. When it comes to selecting a distributor for your products, ask them what brands they represent, what the sales and marketing strategy would they employ for your products, what channels they operate in and how they plan to pay you on time.”

“In Germany we’ve been successful selling organic food bars through a distributor that focuses on the entire German organic market. got our products into over 1000 organic supermarkets and have now listed our Pulsin' protein bars with REWE group, one of Germany's largest supermarket chains. In Holland, we have a great distributor that has managed to get our beond and Pulsin' bars into 1000 supermarket and pharmacy stores. Our year-on-year growth for Holland exports is up 300%. In Sweden, we are working with a distributor that covers the full market and all distribution channels.”


Be Knowledgeable

Alexia Benson, Founder of Bensons the Juicers in Gloucester says “our top tips would be to get to know the market you are exporting to.  We export our drinks and iced lollies to the UAE and finding an agent that you can work with is imperative.  Make sure you seek advice on all documents and legalities associated with exporting to that country and build up good, frequent communication between you and your export agent/customers. If in doubt, contact Department for International Trade who are always available for assistance.”

“We have had many successes in the last few years including growing our exports in the UAE. We supply Nando’s in the UK with our Chilly Billy Iced Lollies and are now supplying Nando’s UAE with both our lollies and drinks. We have worked with a company called Melt who have been great agents for our Chilly Billys and a real asset to our brand. We are now working with the wholesaler 4 Corners as the main distributor for our products and hope to develop this relationship to other countries. Our products are very well suited to warmer climates and have proved a huge success especially as a healthy option.  This dissipates the seasonality issues of our products that we would have if we only stuck to the UK market!”


Be Patient

Paul Mills, Director of Intriguing Brands based in Somerset says: “Opportunities are unlikely to happen overnight and developing long term personal relationships with buyers and suppliers in your target market is the key to success.  For almost every company, it will be a marathon and NOT a sprint! Export requires dedication, commitment, belief and enthusiasm that one day you WILL achieve your goal.”

“Try to consider your company and product/service in the context of the markets you are seeking to enter. Each country is different; you need to be flexible and prepared to tailor your product/service to each individual market. Do not simply seek to offer a ‘one size fits all’.”


FoodEx South West offers a range of free support for food and drink companies who are looking to export their produce. This support service includes promotion of products to international buyers through an online directory and a virtual trade fair, as well as advice on IP, import tariffs, documentation and trading regulations.

To find out more click here.

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