Export insights from leading brands (Part 1)

Posted on December 5, 2019

At Export Connect’s recent forum at Fine Food Australia 2019, I talked to Kim Brown from Carman’s, and David Malone from Simplot about their experience managing exports for major Australian brands. Let’s meet our export experts.

Kim Brown manages Carman’s global export portfolio. Carman’s exports to over thirty countries worldwide with a focus on the breakfast category. Kim’s a farm girl from New South Wales who has worked in agricultural trade and cross-international businesses for the last ten years, including ASX-listed and private companies – she’s excited by Carman’s story and fantastic Aussie range.

David Malone is the international sales and marketing manager of Simplot, who cover many iconic Australian brands including John West, Leggo’s, Bird’s Eye and Edgells. He’s currently focusing on managing these brands into Asia.

Making exports visible

Kim and David are working with major brands with healthy Australian markets, so the first thing I wanted to know was how visible export is within their companies, and how they attract resourcing to the export side of the business.

Kim told us that Carman’s is passionate about exporting, and sees it as a key business strategy, meaning that even within a small team she can access the support she needs. The lean business model allows a daily round table which fosters internal relationships and keeps the whole company engaged.

David explained he is working in a different context – the total Simplot Australia business is $1.5 billion, with the international business forming less than 1% of the profit. So, getting airtime and resources for exports can be an interesting task. However, the market in Australia has its own challenges – there hasn’t been significant growth, there is price deflation, and the retail landscape is highly competitive. That makes international markets all the more important, and David felt his part of the business was seeing an increased share of resources and voice in response.

Key export markets

We’ve talked before on the blog about how important it is for exporters to target the right market, so I asked Kim and David what their key export markets were.

For Kim, the primary markets are China, Middle East, Singapore and South-East Asia – a list many Australian brands will probably relate to. I was interested that the USA wasn’t up there and wondered why.

Kim explained that the USA isn’t a business priority, with costs – freight, inbound duties, tariffs, wholesale margins and retail margins – making it a difficult market, and one without a strong business case for her company. She told us that for Carman’s, the key to successful export is to focus on projects that are strategic priorities. It is crucial to understand who the consumer is, what the market complexities are, and whether the company has something unique to offer to differentiate from their competitors.

David is currently overseeing the reach of Simplot brands into Asia. It comes with some interesting challenges. For example, consumers outside Australia and New Zealand don’t have the brand recognition of Bird’s Eye, so all the Bird’s Eye vegetables are being rebranded into the Edgell brand for export.

This is the end of the first part of a two-parter insights series. You can read the second part of the series on our blog. 

This forum was a great opportunity to get insights from experienced export managers for major Australian brands, and I want to thank both Kim and David for sharing their time and expertise. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a line here at Export Connect (service@exportconnect.com.au) – we always love to hear from you.