What's Happening
INTERNATIONAL INTEREST IN LOCAL PRODUCTS
Published on February 17, 2011 by BMEX
BMEX is designed to provide maximum exposure for local brands and local manufacturers not only at a national level but further afield.  As a result, the BMEX Buyers programme has been a key component of the exhibition since 2005.  Annually, regional and international buyers alike excitedly take a trip to BMEX in anticipation of what the market has to offer; what’s new, what’s improved and what innovative products are export ready.

One first time visitor to BMEX this year is Brian Grotsky of Warehouse Trading Inc. in Canada.  This company is an importer and distributor of non-perishable grocery items, health and beauty products and cleaning supplies.  Located in the greater Toronto area the company was incorporated in 1990 and imports from Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, USA, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and Barbados.

While this is the company’s first visit to BMEX, it is already representing some local brands in Canada.  Warehouse Trading Inc. (WTI) is the distributor for Tiger Malt and Plus Energy and has represented Banks Barbados Ltd. in the non-alcoholic product line across Canada for the past 15 years. WTI has also just placed their first order for Aunt May’s products as well as Claytons Kola Tonic.  Mr. Grotsky credits these new partnerships to last year’s BMA trade mission to Canada where he became intimately familiar with some of these brands.

Warehouse Trading is looking for high volume products which are saleable in Canada; they are keen not only to market those products to the Caribbean population in Canada but to cross-over to the mainstream Canadian market.   An example he uses is Jerk Seasoning, this is a product which interest not only the Caribbean Diaspora but Canadians in general.

Speaking about what is necessary to make the cross-over, Mr. Grotsky wholeheartedly offered feedback and advice which he felt would be beneficial to manufacturers looking to break into international markets.

“Primarily, manufacturers need to understand the market they wish to enter and be willing to invest in it.  This means that manufacturers and/or their representative agencies must be willing to visit the market, explore the competition and see if and where there is a fit for their product.”  Grotsky is of the view that to succeed in the long-term there must be a marketing strategy in place from the infancy of a product launch.  He added that “Manufacturers must be aware that they may not be able to achieve the usual margins initially as it will take time to build the brands. Over time, it is possible to build them into recognized brands. 

“Investment into new markets, through contributions to the marketing of the product and special pricing which can be passed on to retailers, is critical.  This is particularly important as you initially set-out to build brand recognition.  Manufacturers should also be prepared to assist with product launches; in-store product demonstrations and the initial advertising costs.

“In the current global environment we must give consumers a reason to try our brands; one avenue to do this is in the area of labeling.  To cross over to the mainstream Canadian market labeling becomes an important marketing tool.” Mr Grotsky strongly suggests that labels should include useful information such as usage of the product e.g. a recipe on how to use the product would encourage the average consumer to try it.

“The competitiveness of the product is also a key determinant to its success.  There are four partners in the export process and there must be win-win for the manufacturer, the distributor, the retailer and the consumer.  The product line that gets this right has the best prognosis for long-term success.”  Grotsky used Tiger Malt as an example.  “Tiger Malt is the number one selling malt beverage in Canada competing directly with over twenty brands currently in the Canadian market place.  They are successfully getting the product out and it is listed in most major chain stores across the country.  Consumers recognize the quality, and it is priced competitively within the market.”  There are many opportunities available, Grotsky believes, there simply needs to be the right marketing tools along with manufacturer support in place from the very beginning.

This year’s buyer’s programme will see participants from Antigua, St. Vincent, Tortola, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Florida, New York, Canada and the UK.  While several of the buyers will be coming to BMEX for the first time, some are repeat buyers who are always keen to work with Barbadian manufacturers and help us break through some of the barriers to various export markets.

BMEX 2010 Buyers Programme is an inward mission that will benefit many manufacturers; provide plant tours and a taste of Barbados.

BMEX 2010 will be held this Whitsuntide weekend at the Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre and is open schools on Friday May 21st and to the public from Saturday through Monday May 22-24 from 10 am – 10 pm daily. See you there!

 


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