There are many ways to get a product into overseas markets. Some of the more common methods (using consolidators or Australian-based distributors) can add also significant costs. The best way is to form a relationship with a buyer directly.
Expos are a great way to meet buyers – and the Naturally Good Expo this April will provide many opportunities to do so. Ahead of the Expo, we chat with Eunice Quek Jui Chien, in the second of our Q&A series. Eunice will be at the Expo to continue the conversation.
What is your career background, and what does your current role entail?
I was part of the pioneer team for Ben’s Independent Grocer (Ben’s), handling Gourmet, Dairy and Frozen, Butchery and Indent back then. I left the company after three years to join a coffee supplier, and returned to Ben’s once again one and a half years ago. Prior to Ben’s, I worked with Austrade for four years, taking care of the Food and Beverage sector and Construction.
My current role at Village Grocer (Village) is to look after a team of four people. My team covers organic, baby food, confectionery and snacks, hot beverages, oriental products (from Japan and Korea) and some grains too. I’ve recently handed over Indent to the team but am still overseeing their processes and some of their product selection.
Can you give us an overview of Village Grocer, from your perspective?
Village started 12 years ago and as of March Village and Ben’s together have twenty outlets. We are planning for another 4 -5 more by the end of this year. Village and Ben’s have both been strong with international imports. We hope to remain the leading grocer in importing in new products and deals that will attract more customers to the company. We strive to be the best in selection and to be competitive in selling price, all the while serving the best quality in products and produce. Many Malaysians have started to move toward mid-end grocers because they believe they can get better quality at an affordable price. I think we will continue to grow and be as competitive with other retailers in the market because of this.
What are the trends that you are seeing in health, natural and organic products in your stores and in the Malaysian market more broadly?
Organic, health and wellness trends have been growing rapidly in Malaysia for 2–3 years. We’ve seen continuous growth over the last year and both brands (Ben’s and Village) have been running events and fairs every year to introduce more health brands to consumers. Many more Malaysians are aware of health issues and have been learning to eat more healthily. Almond milk, chia seeds, oats and coconut oils are some of the items that move quickly in our stores. We are also bringing in more healthy snacks to suit the market’s needs.
What categories and/or types of products are you keen to discover while you are in Australia?
Organic and healthy snacks, confectionery, mass brand snacks and confectionery, breakfast cereals and niche gourmet items.
With so many buyers converging at one event, suppliers looking to export have the opportunity to extend their networks, reduce the layers of costs on their products, and develop lifelong business relationships. Any one of these alone will make the ticket worthwhile. Booking details to come.
This is Part 2 of a 3-Part series. Read Part 1 HERE.