At Bread & Jam Festival 2021 Edward Carstairs chaired a panel discussing “Exporting & the big opportunity for British brands”. Bread & Jam is a vibrant community of the UK’s most exciting emerging food & drink brands and has become the first port of call for anyone looking to launch a fast growth food & drink brand.

Taking part in the panel discussion were Jeremy May, co-founder of Nice Drinks, Leanne Crowther, co-founder of Flower & White Ltd and Amir Bagheri, Head of Channel Strategy at Ahmad Tea.

Here are the key points the panelists discussed together with their top tips:

  1. Identify the best export opportunities 

Consider the market or markets that are most similar to your own. You will need to have a clear understanding of your home market to identify the common features that may exist in potential export markets. Do not be put off by the fact that a potential market might be on the other side of the world but do understand the costs of export – often, it can be the case that selling into even the more far-flung markets is cost effective and profitable. The cache of a British brand can also be much greater the further afield you go.

If you don’t have export expertise, hire someone that does. Or at least engage with the food & drink community who are often very willing to share experiences.

  2. The first step to exporting

Put simply, the answer is trade shows. These give you the opportunity to meet the people that you will work with to distribute and sell your product. It also gives those you may work with the opportunity to see and taste your product so that they can truly understand what sets your business apart.

   3. Protect your brand

Run freedom to operate checks in the relevant territories to make sure no one has a conflicting earlier right that could be fatal to your interests. If clear, file and register trade marks for your brand name and logo. Do this early. If you don’t protect your IP then you are open to another party “doing it for you”, which can take years (and great cost) to unpick or, worse still, you could end up facing an infringement action.

   4. Find the right distributor partner

This is critical to successful exporting. Set the rules of engagement at the outset and make sure to start out in the best way for your business by setting out requirements for pre-payment. Be prepared to walk away if the terms aren’t right.

Have an open book approach with a proposed distributor. Look at what margins each side wants to achieve so that you can determine whether it is workable for both parties. Don’t squeeze the distributor too hard since you want to have a good relationship with them. In the long-run you will want to be able to rely on them as your eyes and ears on the ground.

A distributor on the way up might be the best match for your business noting that some distributors might try to trade off former glories. A distributor that is passionate about your business may be a better match than a large distributor working with multiple brands.

If you would like to discuss the above issues, or how else GJE can help you protect your intellectual property and brand, please find my contact details on my website profile here or contact us at