Skin in the Game in the USA: Export Insights

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“Do your homework; utilize the Government wherever you can; go and visit the market; understand the market, understand their distribution. Invest.”

In another successful Food & Beverage Exporters Forum, Export Connect offered access to a panel of experienced Australian food & beverage exporters and an international buyer. Discussion covered a range of markets including Sri Lanka, North America, China and the Middle East; and also explored building an export community. Panelists were: Mr Lalith Withana | SriLankan Airlines & SriLankan Catering; Nicholas Simms | Chief Executive Officer, Bubs Australia; Rob Eustace | Business Development Manager Export – Macadamias & Ginger, Buderim Group; Jackie Barnes | Export Sales Manager, Brookfarm; and Emma Greenhatch | General Manager, Food & Agribusiness Network.

In this piece, we hear from Rob Eustace on getting into the US market.

“Look, it’s not rocket science. Do your homework; utilize the Government wherever you can; go and visit the market; understand the market, and what I mean is: go into the supermarkets, have a look around, have a look at your competitors, understand – from a Safeway to a Kroger to a Mollie Stones – understand that whole area; understand their distribution, because each of those guys will have a different area of movement. Invest. It’s going to take more than one trip to have a look at it and you have to have skin in the game, as we said. So it’s a case of the more you appear there, the more committed the buyers or the group will become, and they’ll start to say: Well, these guys are really serious about where they’re coming from.

The other opportunity, too, is that – which you don’t think of initially, but it happens – is when you get in with the buyers (and you actually do develop some fairly good relationships with buyers), those buyers move on to other chains. And the first thing you do is get a phone call from Kroger from a guy who was originally at Safeway, saying, ‘We want to bring your product in.’ So that’s a big thing: understand your buyers, learn a bit about them.

Once you get in and you think the hard work’s done, it hasn’t. The hard work now begins. You’ve got to keep on the top of mind; you’ve got to keep on that broker; you’ve got to keep it all the way through, and you’ve got to understand everything that moves through. And, again, it comes back to what Nick [Simms] said: it’s having the team around you. If you’ve got your expertise on logistics, your expertise on operations, everything like that; touch wood, it goes fairly smoothly.”

If you liked these insights and you’d like to see more, reach out! And be sure to check back in for more snippets to learn more about every aspect of selecting the right market, connecting with buyers and growth strategies. Watch the other parts of this series here, here, here and here.

This forum was delivered in collaboration with Fine Food Australia, Export Council of Australia and Food Bank Victoria, on 10 September 2018 in Melbourne at Fine Food Australia.