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EXPORT BLOG: Women-led beverage businesses break into global markets

By Tamara Hadziefendic, Special to Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada

Exporting represents a pivotal step for businesses seeking growth and diversification, a journey that demands a comprehensive assessment of readiness. The path to success in exporting is illuminated by understanding market dynamics, leveraging support networks like Export Navigator, and drawing insights from businesses that have successfully navigated these waters. As the beverage industry continues to flourish, recognizing growth trends and export potential becomes paramount. This exploration not only unveils the resilience and strategic maneuvers of entrepreneurs but also underscores the indispensable tools and knowledge required to thrive globally.

Recognizing the Opportunity: When to Take the Leap into Export

Signs indicating readiness for export and the importance of timing are critical considerations for businesses. A company must shine in terms of cost, quality, or uniqueness of its products, possess adequate financial resources to cover initial expenses, and have an organized team poised for the challenge. Optimal timing means diving into international markets when the business is robust across all fronts, prepared to weather slow starts while seizing the opportunities presented by new markets.

Businesses must evaluate team readiness for cultural and operational shifts, align their business plans with export objectives, and ensure operational capacity to meet heightened demand. Financial resilience against expansion costs, evaluation of current market performance versus potential markets, and adherence to new market regulations are paramount. Strategic planning and patience are indispensable, alongside seeking guidance from export advisors to navigate market entry complexities effectively.

Navigating Support Systems: Finding Assistance for Export Journeys

Entrepreneurs face myriad challenges when navigating the export process, including increased operational costs, heightened commitment demands, and protracted timelines for returns on export investments. Language and cultural disparities in target markets, alongside heightened paperwork and intensified competition, add further complexity. To surmount these obstacles, services like Export Navigator and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) offer indispensable support, furnishing advice, resources, and assistance to facilitate successful international market entry.

Export Navigator BC: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

Squamish Water Kefir Company, Okanagan Crush Pad, and Tofino Kombucha, all women-led beverage businesses in British Columbia, leveraged exporting to address and surmount their unique business challenges. Facing issues from production bottlenecks to regulatory complexities, these women entrepreneurs turned to Export Navigator for expert guidance and support. Their strategic decisions enabled them to not only penetrate new markets in Eastern Canada, the U.S., the UK, Norway, and Sweden but also significantly enhance their market presence, boost sales, and achieve international recognition. By taking advantage of exporting, these businesses demonstrate resilience, growth, and the critical importance of adapting and seeking external support for global success.

Trends in the Beverage Industry: Growth and Export Opportunities

The Canadian beverage industry, buoyed by robust growth in 2021, faces both opportunities and challenges. Entrepreneurs must navigate labor shortages, rising costs, and supply chain disruptions while capitalizing on export potential driven by strong consumer spending. Key trends include the integration of automation and technology to offset labor challenges, shifting consumer preferences, and rising commodity prices. For women entrepreneurs, capitalizing on these trends requires addressing barriers such as exclusion from innovation programs, challenges in securing financing, and misconceptions about global success, emphasizing the importance of broadening innovation definitions, fostering financial confidence, and prioritizing steady growth over rapid expansion.

Exporting represents a significant avenue for growth and diversification, particularly for women-led beverage businesses. Overcoming challenges specific to women entrepreneurs, such as securing financing and navigating international markets, is paramount. Success stories within the sector underscore the transformative potential of exporting, emphasizing strategic planning and support systems like Export Navigator. As businesses embrace global opportunities, they not only expand their reach but also showcase the resilience and innovation of women in the international arena, marking a significant stride in global business participation. Embracing exporting as a strategic move amplifies their presence and resilience, propelling them towards sustained success on the global stage.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada and CanExport Associations.