In the world of trade, both exporters and importers dealing with food know that competition is more and more heightened every day, ever since the internet brought life to a communication canvas where any business can be found and in turn find valuable partners and clients in a jiffy. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at a global level, in 2020, food exports grew by almost $52 billion from the previous year, while in 2021 the growth in food exports is forecasted to reach $137 billion.
But then why this eagerness to connect with overseas companies?
Because bringing your products outside of your domestic market can tremendously impact your business, be it by reducing costs, increasing profits or minimizing risks by diversifying the market presence.
Still, despite the tremendous benefits of gaining access to international markets, many food producers still fail to identify their true export potential. With these in mind, in this article, we intend to do a quick snapshot of the new reality and to bring some light upon why import/export businesses are important and who can enter the game, by tackling down common misconceptions in the world of trade.
MYTH #1: My domestic market is safer!
Lots of people prefer local foods, perhaps for the short time between the harvest and their basket, or the idea of supporting the local community and environment. In reality, many countries are vulnerable to the availability of farmland, limited natural resources or unfavourable climatic conditions which turn the supply towards food imports.
At the same time, globalization, tourism, migration, technology advancement, and internet connection have accelerated the flow of goods, which in turn is highly and quickly influenced by the demand and trends among food consumers, on both local and global scales.
Besides issues of food self-sufficiency and global influence, we can’t do away with imports because markets are dynamic, making it clear that it is helpful to be active in more markets, to diversify the risks.
MYTH 2: I`m too small to afford to expand internationally!
A lot of food producers underestimate themselves and waste their export potential as they cannot recognize their export readiness. A common misunderstanding is in the belief that their business is too small to have the capital, supply volume or right people who can deal with exporting to international markets.
In reality, these concerns do sound reasonable, but things are far easier than they sound because many producers already broke these “barriers”. In the world of trade, the majority of export businesses are small and medium-sized companies because, in fact, it is easier for them to expand internationally than for large businesses because their flexibility helps them to quickly adapt to market fluctuations. For many SMEs, gaining access to international markets is a powerful move to invest in their development and gain profits as well as competitional advancement.
MYTH #3: High competition in foreign markets leaves no place for me!
In a similar vein, food producers think that foreign markets, especially those of highly developed countries, are hard to penetrate due to the vast competition and big players who dominate the market with their popularity and loyal customers base.
In reality, the right product, at the right time, on the right market is all it takes for a food exporter to earn success. Sometimes, it can be a matter of supply vs demand as the last two centuries had accelerated the connection between the world’s economies and cultures. The winning card here is to really research the countries you intend to sell to, the types of customer behaviour, trends, purchasing power, as well as business etiquette, so you know how to win the hearts of local food importers.
MYTH #4: Bureaucracy is over the top!
Although reading about paperwork, taxes, or regulations may sound overwhelming, in reality, the big picture remains the same, with few additional requirements here and there, depending on the food product dealt with, the target market and so on.
The truth is, nothing is easy in the beginning, but this doesn’t stop us from doing new things we set our minds to. Also, we are in the era of the internet, where anything we want is one click away. Information is easily accessible, plus there are many public and private institutions like government agencies, private associations, trade centres, chambers of commerce and several other organizations, ready to offer consultations on the import/export process, even prepare all the documentation.
MYTH #5: Markets with foreign languages & cultures are hard to conquer!
When food producers desire to gain access to a new market, the differences in language, culture or even business etiquette may be a hassle, but in truth, they are not a barrier.
The era of the Internet brings a big helping hand, with many sources of information to educate yourself and institutions ready to help with a successful market entry strategy. Moreover, today, English is the most popular language, with 25% of worldwide internet users, and for exceptions to this case, there are many translators one email or phone away.
Considering the advancement of globalization, technology, and transportation, food exporters in the world of today have a handful of opportunities outside of their home borders to participate in the international economy, which in turn have never been easier than in the present. Nobody is born an expert, but with research and strategy, gaining access to international markets is tremendously beneficial for businesses of any size.
In a similar vein, food importers who wish to gain a competitive advantage always will be on the look for a reliable supplier who can bring products that are unique or are not covered enough in their portfolio.
To get access to a list of more active food importers from around the world, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.