In a world where global trade presents both challenges and opportunities, Fluna recently hosted a webinar to empower African fresh fruit and vegetable exporters. This virtual gathering brought together over a hundred African exporters keen on making their mark in the international fresh produce trade. The event boasted an impressive lineup of speakers, including Matthijs Brokke, Fresh Foods Buyer at Exsa Europe, who shared insights as the keynote speaker. Fluna's team of experts, Miguel Sousa Dias, CEO; Astrid Antillon, Fresh Food Product Market Lead; and Olumide Bolumole, CCO, also contributed to the discussion as Fluna's COO, Kuorkor Dzani, moderated.
Several insights were shared at the webinar, and here are some of them.
Understanding the Export Landscape
Astrid Antillon, in her presentation, underscored the importance of understanding the specificities of the market in which exporters intend to operate. She emphasised the need to delve into details such as taxes, tariffs, procedures, formalities, requirements, rules of origin, export measures, statistics, and trade barriers. Astrid continued by highlighting essential considerations for exporters seeking to enter the international market, including aspects like product quality, export capacity, certifications, maximum residue limits, buyer preferences, shipping terms, distribution channels, and pricing strategies.
In terms of quality, Astrid noted that it is a non-negotiable factor for international trade. As an exporter, you must ensure that your products are of top-notch quality, conform to buyer specifications, are intact, and are capable of withstanding the rigours of long-distance transportation. She highlighted innovations such as Apeel, Hazel Technologies, and Liquid Seal, which offer effective ways to preserve the quality and extend the shelf life of produce.
Certifications and Compliance
According to Astrid, certifications are often prerequisites for entering certain markets, especially Europe. Astrid highlighted the importance of having valid certifications such as Global G.A.P., Rainforest Alliance, and SMETA. She also cautioned against the use of individual company certificates for uncertified products.
A Framework for Export Success
A recurring theme in Astrid’s presentation highlights the need for you as an exporter to have a robust business plan, one that will include a unique selling point that sets you apart from hundreds of other exporters. Also, exporting is financially intensive, and as such, you must find and partner with trustworthy financiers like Fluna to support your business journey. This can be in the form of freight financing, invoice discounting, or purchase order financing. There’s also a need for you to carry out diligent market research, especially on the potential importer (buyer). As an exporter, you must be aware that buyer fraud exists in all markets; it is up to you to do your diligence and look into the history and track record of the buyer. Fluna can help by connecting exporters to pre-diligence and pre-vetted buyers, and this can be a great starting point for an you to diversify its pool of buyers.
One other vital area Astrid highlighted that needs market research is pricing. Pricing is a dynamic element of international trade. As an exporter, you must continuously analyse costs, market prices, and pricing structures in the destination market and be aware of the production cycles of major producing regions to remain competitive. Proper market research allows an you to enhance your product value, as adapting products to regional preferences is key to export success. For instance, consumers in Western Europe have a preference for Kent and Keith Mangoes as compared to Tommy or Apple Mangoes. Other factors, like fruit type, transit times, size, and trade agreements, must also be considered.
Lastly, as an exporter, you need to have a plan for risks. This ensures that you are well-prepared for potential claims in the event of goods being damaged during transportation or any other unplanned events.
Matthijs Brokke on Importer Expectations
Matthijs Brokke, Exsa Europe's Fresh Foods Buyer, provided valuable insights into what importers seek in their relationships with exporters. Open and transparent communication is paramount; he indicated that if there are any changes in agreements, it is crucial for you as an exporter to promptly inform the importer. Importers, in many cases, are looking for long-term, sustained partnerships rather than single transactions. The longevity of the relationship is a function of open communication and trust.
Additionally, importers emphasise the quality of products. The quality and presentation of products play a significant role in influencing the buyer. From impeccable packaging to proper palletization, good quality, and clear labelling, these factors make the product more marketable, traceable, and durable during transit. Proper documentation is also important, as timely document submission allows for quicker unloading of containers, reducing costs associated with demurrage.
Lastly, Matthijs restated that as an exporter you .,mp/.,gvmust have a willingness to share in the risks, considering the dynamic nature of the fresh fruit and vegetable market.
As African exporters embark on their journeys to navigate the complexities of the global market, these insights serve as invaluable guiding principles. From understanding market peculiarities to prioritising quality, certifications, and effective documentation, the path to international success becomes clearer.
Fluna remains committed to facilitating this journey as we continue to bridge the gap between Africa and the world with our solutions for financing, access to buyers, and treasury products. You can get started with us today by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or registering at https://fluna.co