Getting a foot in the door is undoubtably the first and most important step to introducing your products into overseas markets. Slim Secret’s Jamie Thurin discusses how important those initial conversations with overseas buyers are and how FIAL can help your business shape up and set them up.
Established in 2005, when the now flourishing health and wellness snack sector was just emerging in the Australian market, Slim Secrets has managed to remain successful and relevant to consumers both here and overseas. With the healthy snack alternatives, including bars, puddings and shakes having been present in Australian supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles for over a decade, the 100% Australian owned and operated company has further expanded over time, now available in a range of speciality retail suppliers, from chemists to airport stores.
Having experienced significant successes in domestic market, Slim Secrets began to grow their overseas presence five years ago. The major challenge in this process was creating connections and the developing relations with new buyers, supplier and distributors, with the brand lacking the capacity to find and begin these conversations. International Sales Director, Jamie Thurin emphasised the importance of identifying connections, saying that “having the opportunity for conversations is the critical starting point, and one that you can’t get anywhere without”.
Despite working through these challenges over the past five years and successfully expanding into markets including Japan, Singapore, the Middle East, Korea and New Zealand, Slim Secrets are always looking for new suppliers and markets. With experience in export procedures and protocols, identifying and connecting with the right person with potential buyers, suppliers and distributors in new markets is an ongoing a major challenge for the business.
Previously attending trade shows with the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, trading as FIAL, and more recently through involvement in the Virtual Meet the Buyer events, this challenge has been all but eliminated. Virtual Meet the Buyer events set up meetings between overseas buyers and Australian export-ready businesses such as Slim Secrets, allowing them to get on with the important task of doing business. Described by Slim Secret’s Jamie Thurin as “pivotal and instrumental in helping to overcome these obstacles and begin to establish these ever-important relationships”.
By participating in Trade Shows and Virtual Meet the Buyer events over the years, Slim Secrets has established contact with many overseas suppliers that would not have been possible without the extensive network of industry contacts provided by FIAL. With the suspension of overseas travel for most of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, FIAL addressed this increased business need by transferring its existing Meet the Buyer program, to an online platform. This has allowed business to grow and deals to continue despite travel restrictions. And while they “don’t always come away with partner, distributor or supplier” in the short term, the process has acted as a catalyst for the formation of invaluable relationships with the potential for fresh opportunities as the brand evolves and consumer markets develop over time.
And with new connections made at Virtual Meet the Buyer events resulting in samples being sent as far afield as Asian petrol station chains, there’s no telling where Slim Secrets will be expanding to next.
Case study developed by Lucy Hickman - Science and Food & Agribusiness Student at the University of Sydney