Eight things to do before meeting with a food and drink buyer in Canada

With a residence of 37 million people, Canada represents 0.49% of the global population. The market is very similar to the UK in terms of language, lifestyle, workforce and legal and banking systems and most consumers are highly educated, well-travelled and familiar with global products. This makes it an attractive target market to sell your food and drink products.

Few things are more exciting to a brand than the opportunity to pitch their products to an international buyer. To maximise your chances of gaining an order, we’ve compiled a list of eight things you can do to prepare for meeting with Canadian food and drink buyers.

1. Familiarise yourself with your competitors

Establish if you have competitors in Canada, more specifically the region you are looking to export to, and if so, get to grips with their retail price and how they are currently fitting into the market.  Be prepared to explain where you see opportunity to grow your brand’s presence amongst these.

2. Establish your unique selling point

Canada can be a saturated market for some food and drink products. You should be able to clearly differentiate to buyers why Canadian consumers will buy your product and what sets your brand apart from the rest. Trends tend to follow those of the UK. Like us, Canadian buyers seek products that are ethically-produced and environmentally-friendly offering convenience and enhanced nutrition. Mention if you are already selling into the US as the Canadians tend to take note of what is happening there.

3. Envisage your product sitting in the store

Before approaching buyers, you should have an idea of where you see yourself sitting within their brand – literally. Do you see your product on the fresh produce aisle, with packaged goods, on the deli counter or elsewhere? If you can be flexible with this, it will help your importer to gain orders quicker.

4. Prepare to be adaptable

You should have the ability to change packaging/labels and be equipped to describe how you can do this. Consumer packaged goods must be labelled in both official languages (English and French). This includes the product description, ingredients, nutritional information and preparation information. You may also be asked about the capacity you have dedicated to export.

5. Plan your product launch

Be ready to discuss what marketing resources you have allocated to the launch of your product in Canada and what promotional activity you have in the pipeline. Perhaps you will offer sampling or instruct a flyer distribution company? Will you be exhibiting at any trade shows and if so, which ones?

6. Consider seasonal changes

Canada has freezing cold winters and blazing hot summers.  You may need to change how your products are both preserved and distributed in such weather conditions. You should be able to demonstrate that you have considered all possibilities, with solutions to overcome any obstacles.

7. Decide on a price

Finding the right pricing strategy for your business is imperative, as it is one of the key drivers to your success. You should decide ahead of any negotiations if you would be willing to agree to mark downs on your products during seasons or line pricing for example, which is typically adopted when you wish to marker to different consumer types.

8. Formulate YOUR questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the buyer questions that you would like answers to. What are their key accounts? Do they employ sales staff or use brokers? You too should ask questions to ensure any agreement is going to be mutually beneficial.

This guidance has been provided by The Department for International Trade and International Food Brokers in an Exporting Food and Drink to Canada Webinar. You can view the full recording here

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