Confectionery company – Looking for new export opportunities

Question

Hi all, we sell a range of premium gifting confectionery and although we have exported to a couple of countries including China and most recently Korea, I am looking for ways to increase our export sales, either by finding new distributors or new customers, can anyone give any guidance on how we can do this ? I own quite a small company but I think export is where our sales increase could be strongest in the coming years but I really don’t know where to start finding new business
I have seen “meet the buyer” opportunities in various counties but they are quite expensive and I don’t know how effective these would be, if any one has done one of these and can let me know if they are worth the cost ?
All help and guidance appreciated.
Many thanks
Tracey

Answer

Hi Tracey,

Have you tried your local Chamber of Commerce? They can offer support for this situation and through UKTI you may be able to apply for funding to use on an overseas trade mission or market research. You can find your local chamber at http://www.e-zcert.com/uk/about/chamber-directory

Best of luck in developing export markets. It’s a real buzz topic in the UK at the moment.

Ian.

Answer

Hello Tracey – a good start, and I get the impression that you are taking a sensible approach.

My advice would be to almost start with a blank sheet of paper and – through objective market analysis – look at the global import market for confectionery, county-by-country, to help identify your priorities. Start with an analysis that answers some of the following questions:

* Where are the biggest import markets?
* What is the UK’s market share globally, and in each country?
* Where are the fastest growing markets?

I quickly looked at South Korea, as an example, and the data suggests that the UK’s market share for confectionery imports is 0.5% of a $119m market. Worryingly, that share has declined recently, with the market growing by 26% in the last year, while imports from the UK have grown only 3%.

Now of course much of those figures will be comprised of monolithic organisations shipping sweets around the globe, but it’s still indicative of a country’s market and the potential for UK businesses there. Identifying small, growth markets, in particular, might be where SMEs can find their niche.

I think that gaining this appreciation of what the global market looks like, country-by-country, is a great place to start and gives you a good objective basis from which to pursue your more in-depth enquiries. And this is particularly so given what you say about the costs associated with ‘meet the buyer’ types of events – knowing where the big markets are, where the growth markets are, and where the UK is strong will give you the confidence to invest in such an event knowing that you’re focusing on a growth market, for example.

If you don’t mind, I will send you separately some examples of similar things I have done.

Tom

Answer

Hi Tracey
Looking at your website reminds me of when I worked in my Dad’s sweet shop.

Seeking out export distributors requires a bit of research. However there are a lot of countries out there and with a small company you can’t scattergun all of them. My advice would be to decide on which ones to target, and then focus on those. The UK’s biggest export partners are normally EU, because its closer and easy to get to, and USA because they speak our language & its a big market. However Food & Drink there may have different regulations, which would need to be checked out. Which countries to target would also require you to think about which countries have a similar culture with your types of sweets. Do you target the ex-pat community ? So for the UAE you could contact Spinneys Group directly for example.
You could also post yourself onto the European Enterprise Network, the one for Buckinghamshire can be contacted via http://www.enterpriseeurope-se.eu/xse/about/feedback.asp
There you can be posted as looking for business partners in Europe, though it means people coming to you and not necessarily that you know the markets and the different players in the markets.
You could also piggy back on UK wholesalers such as Bestway,Bookers,NISA etc as they are supplying customers around the world, but you have no control of your sales & marketing and sometimes don’t even know where they are selling to.
Tracey, if you want to take this further, you can email me
gilio@exportadvisory.com

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