Best Ways For A Small Food Business To Expand Overseas

Even small food businesses reach a stage where their ‘business idea’ seems to have a life of its own. It’s a challenging and scary place to be. The business has a chance of experiencing a saturated consumer base if it does not consider expanding its reach through actions like international expansion.

The attraction of overseas markets is that these markets are typically less saturated and most of the local competition is independent. Also, it allows most types of businesses to diversify risks and benefit from international market penetration. However, the unexpected and anticipated difficulties involved in international expansion are enough for small food business owners to get cold feet. What’s worse is one missed detail can result in negative consequences for your business, such as penalties and increased costs.

To ease the process, here are the best ways to make an informed and successful offshore expansion:

Conduct deep research

It is often a lack of solicited information about the overseas target market that holds back most small businesses. Just like opening a restaurant in a new city requires research on the area, crossing borders requires deep due diligence. It may be a wise idea to seek advice from small food chains and restaurants that have already entered your target market and are willing to share the challenges and war stories.

Does the government in the target market tangle things in red tape? Does a competitor have a monopoly? Are there too many restaurants dealing in the same type of cuisine? Does the purchasing power allow a decent consumer base to spend on your business? What are the dangers? These are just some of the questions you need to consider while conducting research.

Stay a step ahead of the shipping challenge

Not all markets offer the same access to critical raw materials that may be needed to offer a food service, so it’s likely that your company needs to ship food supplies from its home country. While it may be feasible to accommodate this resource challenge by considering minor changes in the core business product or service, staying one step ahead of the shipping challenge is the key to ensure consumers in the new market get the end product in the best quality.

Ship and air freight are often the shipping methods considered by food businesses. Businesses that face a high demand and supply shortages have the option to go for air freight for quick delivery and supply fulfillment. Unigroup air cargo carriers, for example, are able to provide cost-effective air shipping solutions on a large scale and offer priority air delivery, which can be a blessing in disguise for food businesses dealing in high-selling items.

Keep extra working capital

When you finally jump over the pond, think back to when you started the expansion and all the costs your company had to weather. Ensure that you have sufficient working capital at every stage of the expansion to cover duties, shipping, legal, insurance and other costs.

When dealing with foreign currency, make yourself informed about the exchange rates as orders and payments can take longer overseas than in the local market. Government trade department, business associations and Chambers of Commerce are good resources to understand the costs in the overseas markets that interest you. 

About the author

Amanda Green is a site contributor that often writes on personal finance, marketing and business. In her free time she enjoys reading and playing volleyball with family and friends. Her work may also be found on


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