Food businesses are thriving and the demand for locally grown, organic produce is only increasing. As a result, exporting food products is an exciting opportunity for food producers who want to continue growing their business. Any small- to medium-sized business can become a food exporter by following these eight steps. Becoming an exporter doesn’t have to be difficult; all you need is a good business plan, a strong team and the right resources. Your chances of success will increase if you research your target markets, set measurable goals and understand the export process firsthand. If you’re ready to take that leap into international markets as a food exporter, read on for information on how to become a food product exporter.
Create a business plan
Before you get knee-deep in the export process, you should create a business plan. A business plan will help you identify your company’s strengths, weaknesses and objectives. It will also allow you to forecast your costs and revenues and see how your business will change over time. This may sound tedious, but it’s a critical first step to becoming a food exporter. A business plan allows you to think critically about your company’s goals and resources — including time, money and people — to ensure that you have everything you need to become a food exporter.
Assess your resources
Before you dive into the process of exporting food products, you need to assess your resources to make sure you have everything you need to succeed. First, you should assess your financial resources. How much capital do you have to invest in your food exporting business? What are the costs associated with exporting your products? Do you have access to financing if you need more capital? Next, consider your human resources. How many employees do you have? What skill sets do they possess? How many hours per week do they work? What type of training do they need to successfully export your products? Do you need to hire any new employees? When you are ready to export, you will need to hire an export manager to oversee the process. Make sure that you have the human resources you need to succeed.
Find the right export partner
Before you begin exporting food products, you should find the right export partner. An export partner will help you navigate the process of becoming a food exporter and make your first sales internationally. In some industries, trade associations offer services to help members navigate the export process. Others may provide assistance from third-party companies, such as customs brokers, freight forwarders and inspection companies. Exporting food products is a complex process and you need assistance to navigate the red tape. You will also need to find a food regulatory expert who can help you comply with food import regulations for your target markets. Find an export partner as soon as possible so you have plenty of time to prepare for your first shipments.
Develop your product(s)
Before you begin exporting your food products, you need to develop your product(s). This is the most critical step in the export process. You will need to conduct a product feasibility study to determine whether your product(s) can be exported profitably and if it complies with the importing country’s regulations. You can conduct a product feasibility study yourself or hire a food regulatory expert to conduct the study for you. Be sure to include all required documentation, such as a product description, manufacturing process, nutritional information, safety information, and potential sales and marketing strategy. Realize that your product will likely need to be modified before it can be exported. For example, your product may need to be manufactured in a different way, packaged differently or include additional information on the label.
Set measurable goals
Before you begin exporting food products, you should set measurable goals to help you track your progress. These goals will differ depending on your company’s goals — for example, you may want to increase your sales or grow your brand. To help you succeed, you should set goals related to the export process, such as completing a product feasibility study or finding an export partner.
Prepare to export
Before you start exporting food products, you should prepare to export by researching your target markets and creating marketing materials. You can do this research online, through books and trade shows related to your industry. While researching your target markets, you should look for potential importers and conduct market research on them. To find potential importers, you can use a number of online marketplaces, such as TradeKey. Once you’ve identified potential importers, you should conduct market research by creating a product specification sheet and a sales forecast. You should also create marketing materials to help sell your products. You will likely need multiple versions of each marketing material as you sell your products in different markets. Make sure that your marketing materials are compliant with the importing country’s regulations.
Export and measure results
After you have completed all of the above steps, you can begin exporting food products. During the export process, you may encounter unexpected challenges. You may need to make modifications to your product or marketing materials. You may experience delays in the shipping process and regulatory issues. For example, you may need to hire a new employee to help you export your products. Because you are prepared for these challenges ahead of time, you can overcome them more easily. You can measure your export success by revisiting your business plan and reflecting on how your export efforts have impacted your company.
Exporting food products is a complex process that can take up to two years to yield results. You need to be patient, vigilant and thorough in each step of the process in order to successfully export food products. With the right preparation, you can grow your business by exporting food products. This will allow you to reach new markets and sell to customers who want locally grown products. Before you start exporting food products, you need to create a business plan, assess your resources and find the right export partner. Next, you need to develop your product(s), set measurable goals and prepare to export. Finally, you can export and measure your results to successfully become an exporter.
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