• Share this on:

9 tips for doing business with European natural food additives buyers

Last updated:
Takes 33 minutes to read

As an exporter of natural food additives, you must take certain steps to ensure that your export activities to Europe are successful. Creating and maintaining business relationships with European buyers is a complex process. Following the nine tips in this study should help increase your chances of creating and maintaining business relationships with buyers and becoming a successful exporter.

1. Get to know the business culture

Europe is a diverse market with different business cultures. The business culture in the European food additives sector is different to the business culture in your country. A key advantage of following this tip is that it is likely to help you in your dealings with European buyers, which in turn is likely to increase your chances of entering the European market. So make sure to follow this tip and familiarise yourself with common aspects of European business culture. Meanwhile, not following this tip will decrease your chances of entering the European market and negatively affect your business activities in Europe. 

As a new supplier, educate yourself on the local business culture. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner because European buyers will be consciously and subconsciously observing you and your behaviour as a part of their assessment when deciding whether to do business with you.

You need to familiarise yourself with and use technical language of specifications and sector-specific regulations and terms alongside regulations and terms concerning corporate social responsibility and environmental responsibility related to your natural food additives when dealing with European buyers. Doing so makes you look informed and gives you credibility amongst buyers. Table 1 shows terms commonly used in the European natural food additives industry.

Table 1: Commonly used terms in the European natural food additives industry

Technical language of specifications

Sector-specific regulations and terms

Regulations and terms concerning corporate social responsibility and environmentally responsibility

Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

General Food Law

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Also known as the Washington Convention.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)

Nagoya Protocol

Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Physical, chemical and biological contamination

Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) compliance

 

Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides and heavy metals

Fair Trade, Fair For Life and FairWild certified respectively

 

Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation

 

 

Certification of Inspection (COI)

 

 

EU Organic Certification

 

 

Source: Ecovia Intelligence

You must also familiarise yourself with technical terms specific to your natural food additives commonly used by buyers. For example, European buyers commonly refer to ‘viscosity’ when describing a fluids internal resistance to flow; it is used to determine the thickness and texture of additives in the food industry.

Also, European buyers often speak of a ‘colour unit’ which refers to the strength of colour of oleoresins. Failure to familiarise yourself with such technical terms puts you at a significant disadvantage when doing business with buyers. This is because you will not understand their requirements and it will show your lack of experience which could lead them to decide not to do business with you.  

English is the most important business language in Europe and is commonly used by businesses in the food industry. As such, always use formal English when speaking and writing to European buyers. Do not use slang, because it makes you look unprofessional. When it comes to business etiquette, Western European countries  favour formal arrangements where documentation and formalities are preferred over personal relationships in business. Punctuality is valued in Western European countries.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, almost all industry trade shows and events where buyers are typically approached by suppliers were postponed and/or cancelled. As a result, approaching buyers online has become common. An online approach is expected to continue working for many natural food additive suppliers in the future.

Ensure your marketing materials and technical documentation are up to date. Setting up conference calls is also a good way to discuss more complex issues. Documents can be sent electronically. Buyers can request samples and, if they are interested, may request a company audit. Meeting buyers in person is always preferred. Trade shows are the best place to meet buyers.

Prepare yourself in advance before approaching and negotiating with European buyers. Increase your chances of success by researching specific topics, such as payment terms, minimum volume requirements, legislation that you must follow, transport issues and export insurance. You cannot always anticipate the direction your negotiation will go, but you must show your potential clients that you have done your research. Ensure your body language is open and confident.

Keep in mind that there may be some differences between individual European countries. For example, addressing your clients by their first name may be common in the UK, but not in Germany or France. Also, punctuality is taken very seriously in countries, such as the UK and Germany. In countries such as Italy and Spain, you are expected to arrive on time, but there is a much more relaxed culture regarding punctuality. It is not common to bring gifts to business meetings in any European country.

Tips:

  • Attend European trade shows and events; online trade shows have become common during COVID-19. Trade shows are important to meet industry players and network with prospective buyers. Doing so is likely to give you an advantage in your journey to reaching the European market.
  • See the CBI Study Tips for finding buyers on the European natural food additives market as it provides several practical tips on finding buyers in Europe.  
  • Review the article on European business culture, which gives useful information on European business culture. Doing so will give you an advantage when you are communicating with European buyers.
  • To find out useful country-specific business culture information, visit World Business Culture and select the European country you are seeking to enter. Doing so will give you an advantage on your journey to reaching the European market.
  • Research marketing materials and websites of food companies such as Unilever and buyers such as Mane. This will help you to get to know the values of the industry and claims that companies are making to attract consumers. It is important that you adjust your sales pitch and marketing materials accordingly.

2. Provide a well-prepared and structured technical dossier

Have a well-prepared and structured technical dossiers ready and easily available before approaching European buyers. Buyers expect this as it shows compliance with regulations as well as their requirements. For example, when asked in an interview by Ecovia Intelligence on behalf of CBI whether documentation is important, one European buyer of natural food additives answered “100 percent yes”. Additionally, another buyer stated, “when you are looking for a new supplier, yes of course it (documentation) is important”.  

Following this tip will make you appear more reliable and add credibility to your business, which is likely to increase your chances of entering the European market. Not following this tip is only to your disadvantage, as it could make it difficult for you to enter the European market and successfully trade in it.

Your dossier should contain the latest available information about your natural food additives. This includes information about your natural food additives’ effectiveness, traceability, sustainability, methods of production, claims, patents and health and safety.

Technical Data Sheets (TDS), Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Certificates of Analysis (CoA) are three important pieces of documentation your technical dossier should include. Be prepared to invest time and resources into preparing the documentation required by European buyers. Additionally, be prepared to complete questionnaires about your compliance with EU regulations, as European buyers often require this. Table 2 shows what is contained in SDS, TDS and CoA to help you prepare these three important pieces of documentation.

Table: 2 What is contained in SDS, TDS and CoA

Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

which matches

Product description

Product description

Data mentioned in the TDS

Product classification

Product classification

Pre-shipment samples approved by buyer

Hazard identification

Quality analysis

Contractual agreements with buyer

Information on safety measures

Information on applications

 

 

Certificates

 

Source: Ecovia Intelligence

In recent years, European Union (EU) regulations have become stricter; quality standards are also increasing, leading to more pressure on European buyers. It is therefore important for you to provide documentation that is well prepared and structured to European buyers.

Tips:

  • Read the CBI study on preparing a technical dossier for natural food additives as it provides further information, guidance and practical tips on preparing a technical dossier for natural food additives.  
  • Review these examples of a Safety Data Sheet, a Technical Data Sheet and a Certificate of Analysis for stevia extract, as they are the three components of a technical dossier.
  • Ensure your natural food additives dossier is updated regularly.
  • Find out what documentation European buyers need from you and what their requirements are concerning your natural food additives.
  • Larger buyers and manufacturers might require you to comply with their code of conduct. Show flexibility and enthusiasm for doing so. This could help you on your journey to accessing and trading with the European buyer.

3. Always send high-quality samples and products

European buyers of natural food additives usually request samples from prospective suppliers to determine whether they are suitable business partners. The samples are required to see if your natural food additives comply with the EU’s mandatory requirements alongside the buyer’s own requirements.

A European buyer of gum arabic stated in an interview “every time, each consignment they would like to offer, we need a sample beforehand for every batch”. A major advantage of following this tip is that it is likely to increase your chances of starting and maintaining a business relationship with buyers. Not following this tip is likely to prevent them from doing business with you.

Ensure you always meet the requirements a buyer has set for any samples you send them. This typically concerns:

  • sample type – for example conventional or organic;
  • quantity – for example 400 grams of organic guar gum; and
  • packaging – for example kraft paper bag and/or steel container.

You should therefore always send the correct quantity of samples that are of the highest quality, and ensure they are received on time.

European buyers also regularly test natural food additives they have purchased, usually on a per batch basis, to ensure your natural food additives comply with the EU’s mandatory requirements along with their own requirements. For example a buyer stated in an interview “we test a sample of every shipment”, with another buyer stating “we analyse for pesticides, for microbiology and for metals”.

Additionally, when asked whether they test their natural food additives to ensure they are of the finest quality, one buyer answered “always’, with testing taking place “in the company… after getting the product”. Thus, always supply natural ingredients of the highest quality. Failure to do so could result in the termination of your business relationship with European buyers, as you do not meet their high quality requirements.

Figure 1: Tara gum sample

Tara gum sample

Source:  Adobe Stocks/Akvals

Tips:

  • Ensure you always meet the requirements a buyer has set for any samples you send them. If there are things you are unclear about and/or if you have any queries, make sure to ask the buyer about them. Using your initiative and being proactive is favourable in business.
  • Always send samples and supply buyers with the highest quality natural food additives after establishing a business relationship with them. Failure to do so could result in the termination of your business relationship with them.
  • See the CBI study on how to prepare technical documentation for natural food additives because it provides guidance on sending samples to buyers.

4. Meet common buyer requirements

You must meet the EU’s mandatory requirements to enter the European natural food additives market. At the same time, ensure you also meet all the common requirements that European buyers of natural food additives have. This tip will likely increase your chances of entering the European market as it increases your appeal. Not following this tip puts you at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive market.

Quality and consistency requirements

European buyers demand natural food additives of the highest quality. Buyers therefore demand 100 percent pure and unadulterated natural food additives, something they regularly test for usually on a per batch basis. This is something they revealed in interviews. Indeed, one buyer stated, “quality of the product is the main thing”, with another buy stating “I’m focused on quality only”. As such, always supply buyers with natural food additives that are of the highest quality which are 100 percent pure and unadulterated. 

Buyers often have specific requirements for certain natural food additives according to their use in the food industry. For example, regarding vanilla extract one European buyer revealed “vanillin content is probably one of the most important ones” alongside “moisture, microbiology, pesticides and heavy metals”. Meanwhile, buyers of guar gum/gum arabic prefer a product with a viscosity level between 3,500 and 5,000 which is lightly coloured and has a minimal smell.

For stevia, high solubility is important. Indeed, when asked about the importance of stevia’s solubility one European buyer stated, “yes of course… of course the solubility is very important”. Another buyer commented “it’s the only thing that is important”. For oleoresins, its colour, flavour and purity are the three most important requirements. You should therefore speak to buyers and find out if they have specific requirements and consider meeting them.

Consumers demand good-quality food and drinks products. As a result, buyers want a consistently high-quality natural food additive because it will help produce good-quality food and drink products. As such, you should always provide buyers with a standardised quality product across all packaging size as a per volume order.  For example, high-quality coconut sugar should be packed in kraft paper bags that can hold 25 kilograms for an order of that size.

Certification

European buyers use certification to assess the quality, safety and credibility of natural food additives. As such, European buyers demand certification of a food safety management system based on the European Union’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system outlined in EU Regulation 852/2004 on hygiene of food stuffs.

Indeed, when asked what the most important requirements were for new suppliers in developing countries a European buyer revealed, “we like them to be certified”, as “our customers require certificates… so we have to have them from the supplier”. Additionally, when asked about the importance of certification, another buyer stated that it is “necessary, yes” with another stating “certifications are particularly important”.

The most common certifications demanded by European buyers are:

Figure 2: Examples of certification

Example

Source: Various

Additionally, quality and contamination are two key issues for buyers; they are therefore increasingly demanding products that are certified organic, as this indicates good quality. For example, when European buyers of stevia were asked if there is demand for organic stevia several answered “yes”, with one buyer commenting “we only have organic stevia”.

Meanwhile, when European buyers of vanilla extract were asked if there is demand for organic vanilla, several answered “yes”, with one commenting “yes, of course there is demand for organic vanilla”. Additionally, another buyer commented “most people are demanding organic vanilla”.

Figure 3: EU organic certification logo

Organic certification logo

Source: ec.europa.eu

European buyers also asses the quality of your company by evaluating the environmental sustainability and social standards it upholds. Meeting UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative BioTrade Principles and Criteria, alongside the FairWild Standard, demonstrates your commitment to environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, having FLO Fairtrade certification and or meeting the Fair for Life Standard demonstrates your commitment to upholding social standards.

Figure 4: Examples of environmental and social standards

Examples of fair trade certification schemes

Source: Various

To trade with European buyers, you should meet their demands for extra certification because it will increase your chances of entering the European market and successfully establishing yourself. Additionally, it helps you develop long-lasting trading relationships with buyers.

Tips:

  • Speak to buyers and find out if they have specific certification requirements. Only agree to meet these requirements if you can because failure to meet agreed requirements can lead to the end of your business relationship.
  • Put emphasis on the quality, safety, traceability and sustainability aspect of your ingredients. Ensure you can back up your claims with documentation.
  • See the CBI study on Market Entry Requirements for Natural Food Additives on the European Market, as it gives more information on mandatory and additional requirements European buyers have.

cost. This is the main advantage of following this tip. Additionally, in any situation where you are likely to communicate with and/or meet buyers, you must have your pricing information ready as it will increase your business credibility on the European market.

Setting your prices

You must understand how your competitors price their food additives. Ensure you understand whether your food additives are viewed as valuable and what competition you may face. You should also have an idea about the instability of your prices. Factors affecting price instability can range from weather patterns, regulations, to prices of competing ingredients. COVID-19 is a new factor affecting price volatility, and it will likely remain an important factor until the pandemic ends.

You must set your prices using up-to-date and accurate cost information. Key questions you must answer when setting your prices include:

  • What is the actual cost to procure, process and deliver your goods to a certain point in the supply chain?
  • What is the break-even point for your business? This is the number of products you need to sell to at least cover your costs.
  • What margins have you attributed over break-even?

Failure to know the answers to these questions puts you at a disadvantage when presenting information to existing or potential customers. It could also result to you incurring financial loses.

Food additives are sold in different quantities. The volume depends on the type and quality of ingredients, and can range from a couple of kilos to hundreds of tonnes. It is important for you to be honest regarding what volumes you can supply. Be aware that this will also affect your prices.

Buyers often expect discounted prices when ordering large quantities of natural ingredients, something you must be prepared for. To calculate this, find out information concerning higher or lower unit prices of logistics. This includes costs of handling, transporting and warehousing your food additives. You must work this out accurately, or it may lead to your business incurring financial losses.

For example, some stevia suppliers offer a 10-30 percent discount for orders of 100 kg and above. In case of seaweed extracts, discounts of 10-20 percent are also common when ordering larger quantities, for example 500 kg and above. It is also common to agree on a fixed price once a deal is made for a longer period, for example over 1 year. Discounts on shipping can also be offered when ordering larger volumes of natural food additives.

Do not under- or over-price your food additives. Under-pricing can negatively impact your business turnover and give buyers the impression your ingredients are of lower quality, while over-pricing can hamper your export activities when competitors offer a lower price. You can also ask for feedback from your potential customers, on whether your pricing is fair.

If you are providing a premium food additive that is certified, you should have a higher margin. However, you must ensure that your quality meets a certain standard. Failure to set correct pricing will put you at a disadvantage when meeting prospective buyers, because they will request this before doing business with you.

Visit online business-to-business (B2B) platforms such as IndiaMART and Alibaba, which list your competitors’ prices. Search for your natural food additive and use your competitors’ prices as one of your starting points when deciding where to set your prices. Importantly, you must only use this as a starting point, from which you must then consider important aspects that determine your price, such as quantity. You must also leave space for flexibility and negotiation.

Giving a quote

European buyers of natural food additives usually require potential suppliers to provide them with quotes as they contain information which helps them determine if they want to do business with them. Quotes you provide should be as short and concise, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Quotes should include:

  • Product description and/or range (if you export a range of natural food additives) – This should contain the basic grade (conventional and/or organic), quality and certification information about your natural food additive. Sending a complete product specification is unnecessary as it can be sent as an attachment, something you should do as it gives your business credibility.
  • Storage and shelf life – This is defined as the typical shelf life of an ingredient when it is stored and handled correctly. The typical shelf-life of a natural food additive begins on its date of manufacture. This is only offered as a guideline, thus it should not be used as an expiration date.
  • Price – This is generally in euros (EUR) because you are targeting European buyers. If you are targeting a European country market that does not use the euro as its currency then tailor your price accordingly. For example, you should use the Great British Pound (GBP) for the United Kingdom and the Swedish Krona (SEK) for Sweden. You must state the Incoterms used for the price along with the unit used, which is usually on a per kg or per tonne basis.
  • Estimated delivery time – This is the estimated delivery time from the developing country you are exporting from to the European buyer. Importantly, be aware delivery times may be longer due to COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons for this given by European buyers of natural food additives include forced quarantine measures and restrictions on the movement of goods.
  • Capacity to export – This concerns information about quantities of natural food additives you can supply and over what time period you can supply them. In response to COVID-19, the production of natural food additives in some developing countries is being restricted and/or completely stopped due to lockdown measures. This could affect your ability to produce and export natural food additives.
  • Packaging – Information about the type of packaging of your natural food additive. For example, plastic (polypropylene) bags with a plastic (polyethylene) lining for the inner packaging of guar gum/gum arabic, with a kraft paper bag for its outer packaging. Package size should also be included here, for example 25kg per batch.
  • Payment – Payment terms should be indicated; however they can be negotiated later.
  • Quote expiry – This does not always have to be provided. However, to avoid frequent price fluctuations you should indicate that your price is not your final offer.

Tips:

  • Ensure you use up-to-date and accurate financial information about your business when setting your prices and making a quote. Failure to do so is likely to result in financial losses. 
  • Work out your various costs, break-even point and margins to determine your ingredient prices.
  • Consider certification for your food additives. You can then justify changing the premium. For fair trade certification, pricing guidelines are provided.
  • Familiarise yourself with terms commonly used in international trade related to pricing. For example, you can find a list of some of the basic Incoterms online.
  • Ensure your price and quote reflects the true market price of your natural food additive. One way to do this is to find sample prices of your natural ingredients by doing basic Internet searches, for example, on websites such as Alibaba and/or by visiting trade shows such Anuga and Fi Europe.

5. Your sales pitch: Inform buyers why and how you are unique

The European natural food additives market is competitive. European buyers receive lots of offers from prospective natural food additives suppliers in developing countries. A central advantage of following this tip is that it is likely to increase your chances of entering the European market. Meanwhile, not following this tip is only to your disadvantage as it gives your competitors an advantage over you.

You must prepare your sales pitch depending on who you are pitching to, so thoroughly research them. Find out the role of who you are pitching to within the company and adjust your sales pitch accordingly. For example, purchasing managers may be more focused on the quality and quantity of ingredients, whereas sales representatives may be more concerned about what their clients would be interested in, such as claims, effectiveness and marketing stories. Arrange meetings with people who have decision-making power within the company.

Try to build a professional relationship with your potential buyers when pitching to them. Research their company website and find out about their history, values and mission. Try to find similarities between your businesses and point them out. You can find examples of sales pitch templates online.

Figure 5: Modern sales pitch transformation

Modern sales pitch transformation

Source: Upwork

Every buyer is different, so create a basic template for your sales pitch that covers the most important points, they include:

  • The benefits of choosing you – such as any certification you hold that demonstrates quality, your commitment to upholding social and environmental responsibilities alongside your ability to consistently fulfil large quantity orders.
  • Your unique selling points – such as any certification you hold along with a Corporate Social Responsibility policy which provides benefits and assistance to your employees and local community.
  • Proof of your success – such as any awards and recognition you may have received alongside positive feedback and reviews from existing buyers through satisfaction surveys and quotes.

European demand for certified organic and fair trade products is increasing, a trend expected to continue in the coming years. Having your ingredients certified adds credibility and it is also seen as a sign of quality by buyers. As such, organic and fair-trade certifications are two of the most valued unique selling points in this sector. If your food additives are certified organic and/or fair-trade, state this in your sales pitches and marketing materials alongside displaying its certifications.

Marketing stories are an important part of your sales strategy. European buyers are increasingly using them to cater to manufacturers and European consumers. It is important that you include information about the sustainability aspects of your food additives in your marketing materials. These include certification schemes, quality management, community projects and growing of raw materials.

Whenever possible, combine your unique selling points with your marketing story because this will increase your appeal amongst European buyers. PT. Coco Sugar Indonesia is an example of a company in a developing country that does this successfully. The company lists all its certifications on its website, and has a dedicated section explaining the company’s values and the certifications its products carry. The website also explains how the company’s products are made, their lower environmental impact and the fair trade aspect of the production process.

Figure 6: Coco Sugar Indonesia’s certification

Coco Sugar Indonesia’s certification

Source: Coco Sugar Indonesia

Figure 7: Coco Sugar Indonesia’s fair trade marketing story

Coco Sugar Indonesia’s fair trade marketing story

Source: Coco Sugar Indonesia

Follow up after your meeting with potential buyers. Do not wait for buyers to come back to you. Instead, show a proactive attitude and reach out to your potential clients.

Tips:

  • Ensure you know what position your contact has in the company and adapt your sales pitch accordingly.
  • Make clear what the unique selling points of your natural ingredients are in your marketing materials. Include logos of certifications that your ingredients have and create marketing stories about sustainability aspects of your production methods. For example, if you are pitching to a buyer specialising in organic ingredients, ensure you include information about any organic certification you have in your sales pitch.
  • Be honest. Do not claim to have any unique selling points that European buyers are looking for if you do not have them, as you will have to prove you have them later. For example, do not claim to have organic certification if you do not hold it, because you will have to provide a Certificate of Inspection –  which is a mandatory requirement to enter the European organic products market.
  • Look for additional information before approaching buyers. For example, find out what their expectations are regarding quality management, certification schemes and minimum volume requirements.
  • Read this article on how to make a good sales pitch, as it provides guidance and practical tips on creating a good sales pitch.

6. Partner and work with export agencies and industry groups

You can increase your chances of entering the European market and successfully trading in it by joining an export promotion programme or working with industry groups to help you trade with European buyers. This is the central advantage of following this tip. Not following this tip is only to your disadvantage as you miss out on this opportunity. So follow this tip and partner with export agencies and industry groups.

Various export agencies provide specialist knowledge and support to exporters looking to enter new markets. These programmes offer coaching programmes and market intelligence on specific European industries, including the food industry. These programmes are cost-free. You should join these programmes as they give insights on what regulations you need to comply with alongside information on relevant industry trends in the European food & drink market.

Note that you may be asked to incorporate the knowledge you acquire and make certain changes in the way you operate your business. Not working with the tools various matchmaking programmes provide may cause you to miss out on essential information about the European market. Your export activities may also be hampered by lack of knowledge on regulations and requirement European buyers have.

Services these export agencies provide include training, coaching, distance guidance, trade fair participation and business matching. This is usually delivered by European sector experts who are well equipped to advise exporters on how to enter the market and trade in it. For example, such experts know the requirements and expectations European buyers have.

A key advantage of being part of an export promotion programme is that it provides you with networking opportunities to connect with prospective European buyers. Additionally, your business increases its credibility by participating in such networking events as it shows your seriousness in meeting buyers. Important European agencies operating in the natural food additives sector are:

The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI)

The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) provides an extensive range of services to exporters from developing countries wishing to enter the European market. Services offered by CBI include export coaching programmes, training and coaching, distance learning and guidance, company visits, market information and multiple trade fair participation.

The Swiss Import Promotion Desk (SIPPO)

The Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO) provides support to chosen Business Services Organisations (BSOs) helping exporters increase their exports to new markets. BSO employees receive expert training and coaching in their home country, which they then use to help exporters.

The Import Promotion Desk (IPD)

The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) provides exporters from developing countries with opportunities to meet European, particularly German importers. The IPD also prepares market reports that help exporters enter the European market.

The International Trade Centre

The International Trade Centre (ITC) is a developmental agency set up by the United Nations promoting sustainable trade. Most of its activities are aimed towards exporters who they help through their programmes. ITC provides export management, supply chain management, quality management, packaging, and marketing and branding programmes respectively.

The ITC has publications and a SME Trade Academy providing online courses (some cost-free). If you want to develop yourself as a successful exporter of natural food additives, then courses such as ‘Export Sales and Negotiation’ and ‘Helping SME’s Generate Export Business’ may be relevant for you.

Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)

Established by a commission of the European Commission, EEN aims to help companies offering all kinds of products and services to innovate and grow internationally. Check if your country has an EEN local point.

Non-governmental organisations

Examples of non-governmental organisations helping exporters in developing countries enter the European market include:

  • Africrops provides exporters in African countries consulting services helping them enter the European market. Specific services offered by Africrops include training, coaching and capacity building.
  • The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) helps exporters export to new markets.
  • The Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF) offers tools, such as capacity-building programs, networking events and various cooperative projects that strengthen trade activities of its members.
  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) promotes cross-border trade and investments and offers various services to enterprises.

Joining a trade promotion programme is important for exporters in developing countries because the European market is strictly regulated and very competitive. Exporters of natural food additives in developing countries should therefore follow this tip, as it improves their chances of successfully entering the European market and trading in it.

Figure 8: Logos of well-known trade promotion agencies supporting exporters in developing countries

 Logos of well-known trade promotion

Source: Various

Tips:

  • Actively look for government and non-government agencies to support your export activities because doing so is likely to increase your chances of entering the European market.
  • Ensure you take full advantage of services provided by export promotion agencies as they are likely to increase your chances of entering the European market.
  • Involve your staff in training activities so they can acquire more skills and experience, something that will benefit your business in the long term as it is important to have a skilled and experienced workforce.
  • Check if any export promotion agencies and/or BSOs in your country offer services to help you grow your business by exporting. You can get help with advertising, promotional events, export training, capacity building, regulatory compliance, market intelligence and attending trade shows.

7. Organise your sales team efficiently

A sales team is a crucial part of any business. Having a well-organised sales team is essential for your business’s profitability. Therefore, it is essential that you follow this tip and organise your sales team very efficiently. Doing so can improve your business’s profitability as well as your chances of having successful relationships with European buyers. Meanwhile, not following this tip can have the opposite effect.

It is very important that your sales team understands their targets and the overall mission of the company. Ensure all sales professionals in your business fully understand the range of products offered, their application and value to customers. The members of your sales team should be able to independently communicate details about your food additives to customers. This is necessary to answer any questions that European buyers may have and to deliver good sales pitches. Additionally, it helps build credibility amongst buyers and establish long-lasting business relations.

You should structure your sales force alongside your marketing strategy. As a small and medium-sized business, you should focus sales force resources on serving your major customers. As you expand in your export activities, you should organise your sales team according to your international and domestic markets.

You should also consider the specialisation of your sales force. If your food additives require a lot of technical knowledge, you should organise your sales team by product line. You may also need to hire people with a technical background or invest in training programmes, so that your sales employees can provide a high level of technical service to customers.

Failing to organise your sales force efficiently may hamper your chances of finding customers and maintaining long-term relationships with them. Competition in the natural food ingredients sector is high; it is therefore essential you follow this tip.

Tips:

  • Read more about organising your sales team by searching online. For example, check out organising your sales team and marketing your products.
  • Invest time and resources in training your sales team. Your sales team must understand the technical aspects of your food additives, be able to do account management and know how to close a sale.
  • Let the best employees on your sales team deal with your most important customers.
  • Regularly meet with your sales team to assess their performance and targets.

8. Always be professional with European buyers

Upholding a certain standard of professionalism is needed when dealing with European buyers. Being professional gives you credibility and shows you are a dependable business partner. This increases your chances of success in the European market. Not following this tip will have the opposite effect.

Your behaviour reflects on your company and plays a major role in how European buyers view your business. There are several factors that help to create and portray a professional business image. These include:

  1. Dressing and behaving appropriately – Dressing in appropriate business attire and behaving and speaking in a polite and courteous manner and tone.
  2. Punctuality – Being on time for meetings and discussions as agreed. Being late is unprofessional.
  3. Being transparent – Taking responsibility for any mistakes. Take full ownership and apologise to European buyers straight away if this happens. Following this, implement measures ensuring similar mistakes are not repeated and inform buyers about them as this provides them with reassurance.
  4. Being honest – Not making false claims about your natural ingredients, as you will have to substantiate any claims later. For example, do not claim to have certification, such as organic or fairtrade when you do not have it.
  5. Meeting agreements – Meeting contractual agreements made with buyers. For example quality, quantity and delivery agreements. In the event of any changes, communicate them quickly and clearly to buyers. Additionally, constructively work with buyers to find solutions to any unexpected issues.

Competition in the European natural food additives market is high, with European buyers receiving endless requests from prospective suppliers of natural food additives. As such, it is essential that you go beyond what would be expected to win their business.

Tips:

  • Communicate professionally with European buyers in person or via email. Your personal communication style along with in the documents you submit is crucial to conveying the right impression about your business. For example, ensure your emails are short, concise and free of spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Create an atmosphere of improvement in your interactions with buyers. If something goes wrong take ownership, apologise, implement measures to ensure mistakes are not repeated and inform buyers about them.

9. Get practical help in our studies

CBI has created several studies about doing business in Europe. A major advantage of following this tip and reading these studies is that it gives you further information and thus understanding about the European natural food additives market. More importantly, these studies give practical tips which, if followed, are likely to increase your chances of entering the European market and trading in it successfully. Thus, follow this tip as it is only to your advantage, whilst not following it is only to your disadvantage in a competitive market.

Tips:

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Ecovia Intelligence.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

  • Share this on:

Search

Enter search terms to find market research

Do you have questions about this research?

Ask your question