The Ins and Outs of Exporting Organic and Biodynamic Products
Want to export your organic or biodynamic product overseas? Here, an industry expert talks you through the process.
Najib Lawand, director and founder of Export Connect, helps businesses in the food and beverage industry enter export markets. With 25 years’ experience, Najib can explain what you need to know to improve your chance of success when exporting.
If a business wants to start exporting organic or biodynamic products to international markets, should they have the necessary regulations in place first?
From a practical perspective, the first thing to do is select the markets you want to start exporting to. Which markets are the best for you in terms of customer base? If no one wants your product, it doesn’t matter whether you comply with regulations or not. The regulatory bit actually comes last. The information can be researched online, or Australian Certified Organic (ACO) would know what certifications are accepted and not accepted in different markets. They can also explain the regulatory requirements of certain markets.
Any markets you would recommend for Australian organic and biodynamic products?
Australia’s organic industry has a good reputation internationally, especially in Asian markets, recently in North American markets and to a lesser extent in markets in the Middle East.
When do you know you’re ready to enter a market?
You need to understand your intent. Do you want it to be 10 per cent of your business in five years’ time? Twenty per cent? What resources can you give it? Once you know, there are a myriad of market reports you can access online to find out more. Attend events, talk to the experts, find out the trends in those markets… Once you have that information, sit down and make an honest assessment about your product and where you fit. You need to think hard about whether that market is right for you. You have to find your point of difference.
So, a business decides it has what it takes to enter the market. What next?
You then have to make decisions about how to get your product into the market. There are a number of ways and each has different degrees of risk and effort, from selling through an Australian-based consolidator, which involves minimal effort but doesn’t give you much control, to setting up your own office in an international market. Or you could go through an agent or sell directly to the retailer. Generally, you’d only set up your own office after you’ve tried the other channels and your product has proven to be such a success you need to be there to be in the pockets of the buyers.
Any pitfalls beginners should watch out for?
Once you identify a market has a need for your product and it could work for you, make sure you have the resources in place to finish the deal. Don’t go in too early. Also, don’t try and do everything yourself. It’s not as easy to begin exporting as it is to sell domestically so the right help can make a big difference.