Exporting Food and Drink: Q&A with Jim Anderson

Exporting Food and Drink Q&A

How do you know if your business is ready to export?

Exporting demands commitment, so you need to be confident that you can devote the necessary time and resources to it; if you can’t, it’s better to wait until all the elements are in place. It’s important to understand that export orders can be large, so make sure that your production is up to the demands of the country you choose.


What kind of businesses can export?

Any food & drink may be exported from Scotland, although some – like alcohol and raw meat – are subject to more regulations than others. The trick is to match your product to a market that wants it, then roll up your sleeves and get to work!

What’s the best starting point for a business moving into export?

Knowledge is power. Start by learning about exporting at HIE courses that cover the basics – documentation, regulations, packaging and e-commerce. They’re presented by experienced professionals and are tailored to helping you achieve an export strategy that you can apply to the specific demands of your business.

What are the risks?

Exporting risks are no different to the risks of domestic sales, except that they must often be managed remotely and possibly in a foreign language. The more you know, however, the better you will be at managing those risks.


How do you know if your product will be successful?

A lot goes into success, including a bit of luck. The better informed you are, the better you’ll be able to spot a good opportunity when you see one.

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How does the business get paid?

It’s the same as any sale: you negotiate the terms of payment with your buyer. This is best agreed in a contract which may be subject to the laws of the country you sell into. Your HIE Export Adviser can point you in the right direction for advice on contracts and other export paperwork.

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Would it be useful to visit the country?

I would strongly advise it. The business culture in many international markets is built on personal relationships. HIE can identify opportunities for market visits and in many cases, may be able to help with the costs of travel to international destinations for the purpose of business development.

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What makes exporting different?

There is nothing quite like exporting. The challenge of finding new customers in faraway places is the reason some business owners get out of bed in the morning. Maybe that business owner is you!

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Will my business’s product fit every market?

Whilst only a very few food & drink products are universally desirable, we like to think there is a potential market for every properly-presented food & drink product – the challenge is to identify and track down your opportunities.

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How do I write an international business plan?

As part of HIE’s export courses, you produce your own bespoke international business plan, which is often followed up by an international action plan from one of our Export Advisers. Not only do these plans help your business develop an exporting strategy - they also form a valuable part of the documentation you may use to secure investment and financing.

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Can you help my business? And if so, how?

Not only can I help you, I want to help you! I’m part of a team of export advisers who can advise your business on any aspect of your export journey – it’s well worth taking advantage of all the knowledge, information and expertise this free service delivers. A short conversation will reveal your suitability for export; if your business is ready, the next step can lead to advice, market research, funding, workshops and international market visits.

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