The manufacturer has struck a deal with French grocery chain Franprix, in the making since the pair’s first meeting at global food and beverage industry show Gulfood in 2017, to supply 65,000 pots of noodles over the next year.
The Department of International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) helped secure the deal, working with Kabuto to identify potential overseas markets and provide insight on international competitors.
Sophie Venner, sales manager at Kabuto, said: “We first met buyers from Franprix a year ago, which shows how far in advance you need to start planning for overseas sales. Ahead of the deal, we had to translate all of our labels into French, which is a costly and time-consuming job.
Disparity between markets
“One of the things we found tricky in the beginning was the disparity between flavour preferences in different countries. For instance, our chicken flavour noodles are our top-sellers in the UK, but this didn’t sell well in France and customers there much prefer our miso and beef variations.
Kabuto exports to more than 10 countries, including Russia, Malaysia and Iceland. International sales currently account for 5% of the brand’s £4m turnover.
Venner added: “We’ve been working with the team at DIT since 2012 and, in that time, they have provided us with in-depth market research and competitor analysis, which helped create our international pricing. Of course, exporting isn’t without its challenges.
“For any business looking to export their products, I’d say go for it – but make sure you get the advice from organisations like DIT. If we can do it, so can many other south-west firms.”
Harnessing the benefits
DIT head of exports in the south west Paul Shand said Kaubto’s Franprix deal was a great example of a local business harnessing the benefits exporting can bring.
“We know firms that trade internationally are more successful, profitable and resilient than their non-exporting counterparts,” Shand explained.
“British-made food and drink has a global reputation for its high quality, and our food trends are being followed by producers and consumers across the world, which gives a clear advantage for ambitious brands like Kabuto Noodles, which are leading the way overseas.