Young exporter: Sell products abroad, niche markets bigger

Young exporter: Sell products abroad, niche markets bigger

Article by: Raphael John-Lall
Date: 03/02/2020

Jody White, the CEO of Slim­down 360, is en­cour­ag­ing small busi­ness own­ers in T&T to ex­port their prod­ucts and ser­vices as lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist abroad.

White found­ed the Cou­va-based com­pa­ny in 2010 and they pro­vide frozen meals to cus­tomers for break­fast, lunch, din­ner and snacks.

“Ex­port mar­kets are im­por­tant as they pro­vide busi­ness­es with the chance to get in­to much larg­er coun­tries to sell your prod­ucts. T&T’s pop­u­la­tion is just over one mil­lion peo­ple and com­pare that to the Unit­ed States with a pop­u­la­tion of 300 mil­lion peo­ple. A niche mar­ket abroad is big­ger than a niche mar­ket lo­cal­ly,” he told the Sun­day Guardian last Wednes­day.

He gave some sound ad­vice and prac­ti­cal tips to small busi­ness own­ers who dream of ex­port­ing in­ter­na­tion­al­ly one day.

White ad­vised them to do their re­search on what­ev­er mar­ket they want to get in­to and to vis­it that coun­try.

He said ex­porTT as­sist­ed his com­pa­ny by pro­vid­ing train­ing and al­so fi­nanc­ing for prod­uct test­ing, al­though he did not pro­vide de­tails on how much mon­ey he re­ceived for this. He al­so rec­om­mend­ed that busi­ness­es con­tact ex­porTT if they need tech­ni­cal help.

Their prod­ucts are sold in re­gion­al coun­tries like Guyana and soon in Bar­ba­dos. They al­so sell to the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope.

In 2018, they car­ried out their first ex­ports to the Unit­ed States.

He gave an idea of his busi­ness op­er­a­tions.

“If some­one has a fit­ness goal, we pro­vide the meals that they need in ac­cor­dance with that goal. That is like a di­et plan. We pro­vide all the meals that you need. Lunch for 5 days can cost TT$200 and oth­er ranges up to $3,000 month­ly. We al­so have the largest pro­vi­sion flour line in T&T. So for break­fast, you can have sweet pota­to waf­fles or muffins that in­clude cas­sa­va flour.”

In 2017, they launched a new line which cre­at­ed pas­ta from sweet pota­to and cas­sa­va. Al­so, they de­vel­oped in­stant mashed pro­vi­sion, sim­i­lar to mashed pota­to but made from ground pro­vi­sion.

He said their prod­ucts are gluten-free and the gluten-free mar­kets abroad are larg­er than the lo­cal mar­ket.

“The buy­ers of our prod­ucts are large­ly per­sons with med­ical con­di­tions that have to eat gluten-free or those who choose to eat gluten-free. We start­ed do­ing ship­ments via Ama­zon. We sell about one to two pal­lets a month on Ama­zon. We do not sell in brick and mor­tar stores right now.”

He, how­ev­er, cau­tioned small busi­ness own­ers that not every­thing goes as planned, and they must have con­tin­gency plans.

“We sent the ship­ment of sweet pota­to and cas­sa­va fries to Guyana and when it got there, Guyanese cus­toms lost all the doc­u­ments, so we had to scram­ble to get doc­u­ments re-done. Al­so when you do for­eign ship­ments you have to wait to get paid,” he said.

De­spite the op­por­tu­ni­ties, he said that there are chal­lenges in break­ing in­to in­ter­na­tion­al mar­kets.

“It is not easy for a small com­pa­ny to ex­port. There are a lot of re­quire­ments in terms of test­ing and pack­ag­ing. It is cost­ly to put a prod­uct out on the in­ter­na­tion­al mar­kets. To launch a prod­uct in terms of pack­ing, test­ing and le­gal re­quire­ments could cost be­tween $50,000 to $100,000. There must be some qual­i­fi­ca­tions to get in­to the big­ger mar­kets like the Unit­ed States. What­ev­er chal­lenges they face, I will ad­vise any­one to put in that ef­fort to try to ex­port abroad.”

Article Source: Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Newspaper