February 8, 2018

Export with the right recipe

Esa Wrang

Head of Food from Finland programme at Business Finland

The current global food trends are strongly in Finland’s favour. Our food is – and it’s been proven, too – safe, pure, high quality, diverse and unique. There are plenty of markets around the world with suitable price levels and awareness of quality and health, and they also appreciate naturalness and safety. These are the markets we ought to target.

For a company to export successfully, plenty of commitment and long-term planning are required. It’s not about quick wins or making use of surplus capacity. In this job, understanding international marketing is key: we can’t focus on production-based sales, but instead need to move on to recognising the right target markets and implementing customer-centred product development and marketing. Exporting cannot happen merely with items produced for the domestic market.

We must acknowledge rising trends and concrete market opportunities as well as the areas in which we can be frontrunners and experts. Solid arguments for Finland do work, but we must make choices and specialise in order to add value.

Responding to customer needs is a prerequisite for success. In exports, we can’t undermine the importance of controlling multi-layered distribution channels, understanding expectations of local partners and looking after customer relations. Focussed actions and systematic, ongoing promotion are crucial.

Planning ahead and working together with other Finnish organisations helps. The export market has plenty of room for everyone, so it makes no sense for Finns to compete with each other. Together, we can create a reputation of high-level expertise in the food market.

By increasing the level to which export products are refined and the focus on well-branded consumer goods, boosting product development to fit their target markets, conceptualising carefully and finding the right brand story and design – well, we’re pretty close to the winning recipe.

However, we also need to add spoonfuls of patience and a few cups of perseverance in order to concretise the deal. When an average time for an export process to be completed is 18 months, rushing only leads to half-baked cakes.

 

Good News from Finland is published by Finnfacts, which is part of Business Finland.

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