Morlife is a functional foods company providing a range of highly nutritious, delicious and convenient functional superfoods specifically designed to meet individual needs and give consumers the health benefits they are searching for. In this piece, we hear from Cheryl Stewart, Exports and Business Development Manager from Morlife – 2016 Finalist of The Premier of Queensland’s Agribusiness Award.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges in exports at the moment, and how are you approaching them?
One of the biggest opportunities at the moment is taking advantage of one of the world’s largest growing trends and that’s the “Health and Wellness Category” of which Morlife is placed in a prime position to research, formulate and manufacture on demand and in accordance with what’s trending.
FTA agreements again has given Australian food manufacturing companies an added advantage over and above other countries placed to export that currently don’t have these in place.
Australia has a great reputation for producing clean, safe, high quality foods so that’s a great opportunity to build on.
In terms of challenges, our higher wages in manufacturing contribute to higher recommended retail pricing. The USA gives Australian companies a run for their money in exporting to other countries as they generally have safe, high quality foods but their overall production/manufacturing costs are significant lower making their end retail pricing much lower.
We approach it with niche products that have unique selling points enabling us to sell on features/benefits rather than the focus being on price.
As mentioned – every country has their own import rules and regulations and if you don’t partner with an experienced importer then valuable time is lost on navigating through the food legislations, tariffs etc. Try to align with experienced importers/distributors and also most importantly align with buyers who are passionate for your products and your industry it will make sales quicker and easier.
The distance interferes with quick decisions along with the costs and time involved in travelling to international markets. This is where taking advantage of the EMDG and any grants can help.
How do you establish partnerships along the supply chain?
More often than not, spending time evaluating the market and doing a little research can be advantageous. Ask lots of questions to find out who’s who in the zoo. Ask Austrade, ask other Export managers, ring the local health shops in the country that you’re researching and ask them; and sometimes it’s purely trial and error. What works for you may not necessarily be what works for another company. Getting the right partnerships in that sense can be challenging, but it’s much easier to try to option partners after hearing advice from other people and evaluating things together with their experiences.
How do you establish networks of people to bounce ideas off in export?
Let’s just say I have a lot of lunches. LOL!! Everybody is connected. Conversations with other like-minded business people flow easier when they’re not direct competitors. You have to get out of your comfort zone and attend functions and meet other people. It’s often all about who you know. Networking, in particular with other Export managers in similar types of roles – who are working on similar types of markets but not in the same field – is a good idea. Their products might be sold and presented to supermarkets but they’re not in the same channel. When there’s no direct competition, you can openly and freely about our products share both connections and information.
How do you keep up with changing buyer habits and trends?
For us, it’s a little easier because we have a research team. They are constantly keeping up with market trends both locally within Australia, and internationally as well. They’re subscribed to forums and other sources and they’re constantly reading up throughout their week. And because we have our own research team we’re able to develop and manufacture our products. It’s a quick route to commodity and then we can slot it into production as well. We have our own internal graphics team, marketing team, social media team, so we can respond quickly. We’re not restricted by a co-packer, for example, and waiting on them. We can basically slot in and juggle things to meet the market demands as we see them come up.
No matter your scale and capacity though, it’s important to be flexible when responding to buyers’ changing habits and trends.Often the buyers will know their consumers best – but don’t let yourself get pushed around, as you (as the business owner) will also know your market best, too. So there will be a halfway point where you will satisfy the actual end-consumers’ needs, and that’s what we are all here for.
Like the insights you’ve gained? Cheryl Stewart will be speaking at the Sunshine Coast’s Exporter’s Forum on 2 August, in a panel discussion moderated by our Director Najib Lawand. It will include insights from Euromonitor International and will feature other Queensland Export Award Winners and Finalists from a diverse range of industry sectors. Seating is limited; book now to confirm your place. Learn more about it here. See you soon!