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Experts in Exports?

Experts in Exports?

 

Experts in Exports?
The Scotch whisky export figures for 2013 were announced today, shortly after £4.5m having been plunged into a massive push on international exports set out in the Scotland Food & Drink Export Plan.  The figures show static sales by value, but with whisky nevertheless representing 85% of all Scottish food and drink exports, there is much to learn from it in implementing the Export Plan.
It was with great interest that we sought the views of leading figures from some of Scotland’s food and drink brands – some iconic (Nairn’s, William Grant & Sons) and some up-and-coming (Innis & Gunn, Stoats) – at a dinner we hosted recently with exports as the topic of discussion.
The Export Plan focuses on 15 key international markets which include the “highest priority” markets of North America, France, Germany, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong, Japan and South East Asia.  Yet rationale behind choice of export markets varied among our dinner guests.  
The ex-pat community makes English-speaking markets an obvious choice for some, as Scots abroad seek a taste of home.  For whisky, it is the emerging markets which have presented new opportunities in recent years with rising numbers of middle-class consumers and high net worth individuals seeking premium brands and products to demonstrate their new-found wealth.  For others, the online sales community allows new markets to identify themselves, as patterns of international shipping orders highlight areas where investment could deliver growth.
There was general agreement that each market presents its own unique challenges.  While language barriers and cultural differences come as no surprise in some, the variation among even the English-speaking markets is pronounced, with the US being cited as particularly demanding and a challenge to crack, in contrast to neighbouring Canada.
Support available in penetrating new markets was generally considered lacking.  While funding for export growth is available to those companies deemed to have good prospects, support in terms of market knowledge can fall short, even where dedicated local experts are in place.  There is a view that such experts can lack the depth of understanding and the connections of those who are truly established in the markets, and which is vital to new entrants.  
A team of global experts is to be deployed in the seven priority markets under the Export Plan.  The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership would be wise to seek feedback on the efficacy of the current export-expert model before doing so.
It is clear that collaboration within the sector goes some way to filling the holes in the offered support.  Distribution arrangements with experienced and established exporters can afford market entry on a trial basis prior to further investment in that market on an independent basis.  
And the lively discussion among the guests at our dinner showed that the sector’s players are keen to learn from each other and to share the benefit of their experience.  
The export figures show that single malt sales by value are up 5%.  With Glenfiddich topping the global single malt sales chart for the last 8 years, William Grant & Sons have much knowledge to impart.   Yet with growth in US sales of 9,000% over four years, toasted by the First Minster last week during Scotland Week in the US & Canada, Innis & Gunn shows that export expertise need not be the preserve of the whisky set.

 

The Scotch whisky export figures for 2013 were announced today, shortly after £4.5m having been dedicated to a massive push on international exports set out in the Scotland Food & Drink Export Plan. The figures show static sales by value, but with whisky nevertheless representing 85% of all Scottish food and drink exports, there is much to learn from it in implementing the Export Plan.

It was with great interest that we sought the views of leading figures from some of Scotland’s food and drink brands – some iconic (Nairn’s, William Grant & Sons) and some up-and-coming (Innis & Gunn, Stoats) – at a dinner we hosted recently with exports as the topic of discussion.

The Export Plan focuses on 15 key international markets which include the “highest priority” markets of North America, France, Germany, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong, Japan and South East Asia. Yet rationale behind choice of export markets varied among our dinner guests.  

The ex-pat community makes English-speaking markets an obvious choice for some, as Scots abroad seek a taste of home.  For whisky, it is the emerging markets which have presented new opportunities in recent years with rising numbers of middle-class consumers and high net worth individuals seeking premium brands and products to demonstrate their new-found wealth.  For others, the online sales community allows new markets to identify themselves, as patterns of international shipping orders highlight areas where investment could deliver growth.

There was general agreement that each market presents its own unique challenges.  While language barriers and cultural differences come as no surprise in some, the variation among even the English-speaking markets is pronounced, with the US being cited as particularly demanding and a challenge to crack, in contrast to neighbouring Canada.

Support available in penetrating new markets was generally considered lacking.  While funding for export growth is available to those companies deemed to have good prospects, support in terms of market knowledge can fall short, even where dedicated local experts are in place.  There is a view that such experts can lack the depth of understanding and the connections of those who are truly established in the markets, and which is vital to new entrants.  

A team of global experts is to be deployed in the seven priority markets under the Export Plan.  The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership would be wise to seek feedback on the efficacy of the current export-expert model before doing so.

It is clear that collaboration within the sector goes some way to filling the holes in the offered support.  Distribution arrangements with experienced and established exporters can afford market entry on a trial basis prior to further investment in that market on an independent basis.  

And the lively discussion among the guests at our dinner showed that the sector’s players are keen to learn from each other and to share the benefit of their experience.  

The export figures show that single malt sales by value are up 5%.  With Glenfiddich topping the global single malt sales chart for the last 8 years, William Grant & Sons have much knowledge to impart.   Yet with growth in US sales of 9,000% over four years, toasted by the First Minster last week during Scotland Week in the US & Canada, Innis & Gunn shows that export expertise need not be the preserve of the whisky set.

Rona Dennison
Senior Associate

Burness admin