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Frustrated by international shipping
issues? Look next door to Canada.
Canada purchased $25 billion of USA
agricultural products in 2021, a 12%
increase versus 2020. Ninety percent
of Canada’s population lives within
100 miles of the USA border, less
than a one-day truck delivery from
northern USA distribution centers.
The USMCA was approved in 2020
to replace NAFTA and facilitate trade
between USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Canada’s GDP ranks tenth in the world,
larger than Russia, Spain, or Australia.
Companies looking to expand their
international business should consider
Canada a friendly neighbor and
a growing country approaching
39 million people.
Opportunity Gap
Most USA and European companies
market their brands to Canada today.
A simple benchmark is the 10% rule.
USA brands should measure their
Canadian success in terms of sales per
capita versus the USA. Companies
achieving results in Canada at 10% of
the USA are performing in line with
market potential. However, a deep
analysis typically reveals that the
Canadian business is underdeveloped,
with Canada sales penetration at
30-50% of the USA. Asian and
European brands also perform well, as
Canadian newcomers are often “first
generation,” still homesick for their
favorite brands.
Insights to Accelerate International Expansion
Summer 2022
Volume 14 Issue 3
Our Mission: Help Manufacturers “Spend time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
In This Issue
Looking for New
How about 9,300? Export Solutions’
distributor database has helped 3,000
brand owners in 14 years speed up the
process of finding qualified distributors.
Our database covers an average of 85
distributors per country of supermarket
type products for 96 countries. Search by
country, category, brand name, or country
of origin. Experts for Europe, Middle
East, Latin America, and Asia with
complete regional coverage. “Spend
to distributors versus
for distributors.”
Good Neighbor, Great Customer
Page 2
Elevate & Activate
Page 4
Export Today: Tackling 5 Tough Issues
Page 5
Are You a Distributor Helper?
Page 8
– Distributor Database
Page 10
Export Manager Report Card
Page 11
Export Journey: SMCG to FMCG
continued on page 7
Many export managers are dedicated to
market expansion in far flung lands. We
celebrate new listings at international
retailers, sometimes forgetting that the
real development work has just begun.
True success is measured by the “second”
order at any customer.
Recently, I spent the day checking stores
with a leading European brand owner.
Fortunately, my client enjoyed presence at a handful of high-profile chains
visited. Most of our initial discussions focused on securing placement at the “next”
group of supermarkets. Yet, brand placement at current customers was frequently
towards the bottom of the shelf, with limited facings and no promotion. Ultimately, we
concluded that there was probably a bigger business opportunity improving our shelf
presence and in-store visibility at current customers versus chasing new ones.
Export Solutions’ “Elevate and Activate” strategy challenges brands to focus on the
fundamentals of store level execution to enjoy incremental volume gains.
1. How do you determine a good” store vs. a “bad” store?
Each company should publish in-store presence guidelines for each of their brands.
These objectives should be shared at a distributor merchandising training session so
your team is clear on in-store goals. Adjust expectations to reflect local conditions.
2. Eye Level is the gold standard.
Most brands battle for placement on the desirable eye-level shelf. International brands
tend to be premium, delivering higher “penny profit” per unit sold. Normally, retailers
prefer to allocate eye-level space to their most profitable brands. Where is the most
common shelf location for your brand?
3. Activate excitement at the point of purchase.
Each store offers an opportunity to improve and offer the consumer a reason
to buy. High impact price promotions are a reliable but costly tactic. Other options
include point-of-sale placement or taking shelf stock to create a co-promotion with
an adjacent brand already on display.
4. Spend a day at retail with your distributor.
Improving shelf conditions is not an office activity. Schedule a day in the field with your
distributor retail manager and brand manager to discuss practical solutions “store by
store.” Request that the store visits reflect reality, not just the best outlets that have been
spruced up for your VIP “red carpet” visit.
5. What’s measured is treasured!
Implement a universal methodology for store evaluation. Export Solutions created
an “Is this store a 10” program, which can be adapted for any company in any country.
Consider a retail sales contest to motivate store level representatives.
Each year presents tough challenges for incremental volume growth. Focusing on
creating more retail “elevation and activation” at existing customers represents a proven
strategy for brand-building success.
Good Luck!
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
Greg Seminara
“Spend Time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
Elevate & Activate
Americas Favorite Brands
Executive Board
Export Solutions Smuckers Tabasco
Greg Seminara, CEO Danny Berrios, President Megan Lopez, Vice-President
General Mills Sun-Maid
Eric Saint-Marc Carsten Tietjen
Advisory Board
Bazooka Candy Blue Diamond Bob’s Red Mill Bush Beans
Santiago Ricaurte Dale Tipple Jan Chernus Dave Bauman
Campbells Church & Dwight Duracell Ferarra Candy
Julio Gomez Arun Hiranandani William Vera Daniel Michelena
Heartland Idahoan Johnsonville Sausage Kao USA
Tom Theobald Ryan Ellis Cory Bouck Julie Toole
KDRP –Motts Mizkan Reynolds Welch’s
Billy Menendez Noel David Chris Corey Marc Rosen
20 Companies | 200+ Top Brands | $85 Billion Combined
Connect | Learn | Share | Grow
View our activities for export managers – www.usafoodexport.com
Export Today: Tackling 5 Tough Issues
The Covid pandemic sparked
generational lifestyle changes impacting
how we live, work, eat, and shop. Volume
remains stable for now, yet all companies
face unprecedented inflationary pressures
redefining our pricing and margin
framework. Businesses thrive with
innovation, but ultimately cash flow
determines the health and direction
of our business.
Export Solutions explores the 5 key
issues impacting international
development today.
1. Supply Chain
Retailers can’t sell what is not in stock.
Six weeks is no longer considered “safety
stock” for overseas distributors. Most
export success strategies involve
distributors taking longer inventory
positions, up to sixteen weeks in some
cases. This allows distributors to serve
as “super suppliers” with inventory
when others are out of stock. The strategy
can function if all stakeholders closely
watch product expiration dates, weekly
“sell out,” and the cost of financing the
extra inventory.
2. Pricing
What will your shelf price be on January 1?
As discussed, there is a delicate balance
required for managing the four margins
between factory and shelf: brand owner,
distributor, retailer, and promotion. All
participants have a vested interest in
offering consumers a “fair value” price
that reflects market reality, but avoids
the sticker shock of a 20-30% increase
versus last year. Distributors point to a
solution where each participant displays
flexibility. This could
include a scenario
where a manufacturer
delays a price increase
several months, a
distributor sacrifices
some gross margin,
and the trade agrees
to protect penny profit,
but take a lower
margin. Promotion
spending is a key
variable, as many
distributors deploy
promotion funds to
offset or delay the
price increase.
3. Who is Your Team?
Tough discussions require managers to
abandon their comfortable home office for
life at the airport again. I advocate that an
investment in a locally based manger may
represent a higher investment priority
than an increased marketing budget. To
succeed in the USA (European brands),
Saudi Arabia, and China you must hire an
in-country representative glued to market
issues. Additionally, please select a local
expert as your manager, not someone
from your country living abroad on
a three-year adventure.
4. Elevate & Activate
Bigger opportunities appear through
improved in-store execution in existing
markets than chasing dreams in China,
Indonesia, or Brasil. Our page 2 column
shares practical strategies to elevate and
activate your brand’s presence at current
supermarket and e-commerce customers.
5. 2023 Plans
How will you budget for 2023? First
half 2022 results may inspire a false
confidence for 2023 plans. Conservative
thinking forecasts a 2023 recession, as
price increases finally translate to shelf
tags. Cash-starved consumers retreat
to the basics, burdened by higher living
costs everywhere. Fortunately, everyone
still eats and appreciates an affordable
food luxury. I appear optimistic for the
Middle East and Asia, neutral on Europe,
and pessimistic for Latin America
(outside Mexico). An upside exists if the
war in Ukraine ends and oil prices return
to historical levels closer to $75 per barrel.
No year is easy, and 2023 could feel the
deep pain from inflation. A bright note
emerges signaling that the dramatic
limitations caused by the pandemic
are slowly diminishing. Our lives are
changed forever, but at least we can
travel to resume the critical face-to-face
discussions of business development.
Talk to an Expert
Find Distributors in 96 Countries
International Strategy Road Map
Fix Problem Markets
Entry Plans
Online Export Workshops
Motivational Meeting Speaker
Contact Greg Seminara at (001)-404-255-8387 to discuss your business development project.
Are You a Distributor Helper?
Successful distributors represent 20 companies or more. A challenge is the battle for distributor resources.
How do you motivate a distributor to focus on your priorities? A leading European Distributor CEO (thanks William)
reported that "they invest in companies that invest in them." What's important to the distributor?
Supplier Assessment Considerations
(10 = Best)
Market Research Local consumer research, syndicated data.
Supplier Visit Frequency Weekly, quarterly, annually?
Marketing Spend Zero to 25% of sales.
Total Team Relationship
Knows entire team, not just CEO/BM.
Export Manager Experience New hire to 10 years or more.
Logistics Service Level Target 98% on time, complete orders.
Customer Service Same day response to one month reply.
Product Innovation Delivers breakthrough new products.
Company Functional Experts
Supplies access: IT, supply chain, marketing.
Awards/Thank You Celebrates success with whole team.
Local Marketing Events
Invests in local ideas. "Shows up."
Supplier Portal
Brand facts, presentations, insights.
Customer Relations
Key customer favorite to avoid calls.
Sales Contest
Motivates/links with sales team.
Invitation to Headquarters VIP HQ invite or regional meeting.
Category Expertise
Shares best practices from other countries.
Social Media Content
Supplies quality, user-ready content.
Currency/Terms/Billbacks Two-way street. Open book.
Senior Management Relationship
CEO establishes distributor relationship.
Respects Distributor Margin Healthy distributor is profitable.
Achieves Results Culture of mutual growth, partnership.
Distributor Search Helper for:
Can We Help You?
Recent Distributor Search Projects
Asia Europe Middle East Latin America
Australia Germany Israel Argentina
China Ireland Kuwait Brazil
Indonesia Netherlands Qatar Colombia
Japan Nordics Saudi Arabia Costa Rica
Malaysia Spain UAE Ecuador
Philippines United Kingdom North America Mexico
Singapore Africa Canada Panama
South Korea South Africa United States Peru
Call the Export Accelerator!
Contact Greg Seminara at greg@exportsolutions.com
to discuss your business development project.
One Country: Five Regions
Canada is the world’s second largest
country, stretching almost 4,700 miles.
Ontario is a multicultural province.
Toronto is a global city, like New York,
hosting citizens with roots in Italy, the
UK, and Asia. Quebec maintains strong
cultural ties to France. On the west coast,
Vancouver is an energetic gateway with
many Asians and sharing similarities
with the USA’s Pacific Northwest region.
The Prairie provinces of oil-rich Alberta
plus Manitoba and Saskatchewan feature
similar characteristics to the Great Plains
states of the USA. All are proudly
Canadian, but maintain regional lifestyle
and food habits impacting our industry.
3 Chains: 39 Banners
Loblaws, Sobey’s, and Metro dominate
the supermarket channel. All three serve
as retailers and wholesalers serving
multiple banners, channels, and formats.
For example, the Loblaws banner covers
only 59 stores, primarily in the Toronto
area, while their No Frills price-impact
format features 274 stores across multiple
provinces. Costco and Walmart dominate
their channels featuring a mix of Canadian
brands and international favorites.
Success Stories
Many companies look to Canada as a top
country for export sales. This includes
multinationals such as General Mills,
Campbell’s, and Smuckers, as well
as other icons such as Bob’s Red Mill,
Tabasco, and Bush Beans. The common
ingredients are strong key account
management, winning the shelf battle
at regional banners and investment in
retailer activation programs.
Distributor vs. Broker
There are several route to market models
available in Canada. There are a wide
variety of specialist importer/distributors
plus North American style food brokers.
Other hybrid models include formation
of a small direct key account sales team,
with financial and logistics services
provided by an expert like Thomas, Large
& Singer. All models can succeed, but
best practices involve having at least
one employee on the ground in Toronto
(or Montreal) to manage the business
from the Canadian side of the border.
Currency & Compliance
Today, one Canadian dollar is valued
at US 77 cents. This falls within a
historical range. However, all must pay
close attention as the exchange rates have
fluctuated between .69 to Canadian 1.03.
There have been examples of companies
suffering when not aligning pricing with
currency movement. Canada requires
bi-lingual labels. The US FDA and
the Canadian CFIA and Health Canada
recognize that each organization
maintains comparable health safety
systems. Labeling requirements are not
identical, but most companies are able
to align to Canada standards.
Export Solutions Can Help!
Our distributor database supplies
information on 205 Canadian distributors
across all category specialties and core
provinces. We also track 76 retail and
foodservice brokers. As noted, there are
many customers beyond the top five.
Our retailer database covers 95 Canadian
retail banners, including 17 supplied by
Loblaws, 13 from Sobeys, and 9 Metro
banners. We have completed more
than ten route to market and business
development consultancy projects, making
Canada an area of core competency.
Canada: Export Hero
Many companies are frustrated by
the surging costs of containers and
challenges of marketing premium
products to emerging countries.
We all market to Canada, but many
companies may generate a higher
return on resource investment here
versus chasing far flung markets.
Canada is not easy, but represents a
growing country, with a diverse food
culture, open to innovative brands from
the USA, Asia, and Europe. Plus a visit
to Canada allows you to meet nice
people, visit Niagara Falls, and enjoy a
doughnut at Tim Horton’s. Good luck!
Good Neighbor, Great Customer
continued from page 1
Sales* Banners Stores
Loblaws 41 17 2,439
Sobeys 23 13 1,970
Metro 14 9 1,612
Costco 30 1 106
Walmart 23 1 408
*billions of US$, includes drug stores
Export Solutions Can Help!
Distributor Search helper in 96 countries
Contact Greg Seminara at
or (001)-404-255-8387
Why did you create the distributor database?
Export Managers dedicate a lot of time
to networking, always searching for good
distributor recommendations. We waste
precious time at trade shows speaking to
“pretenders” with no hope of adequately
representing our brands. I thought that
the supermarket industry could benefit
from a global distributor database to
instantly find the leading distributors
in any country.
How did you compile the distributor database?
Export Solutions sources distributor
candidates using six specific strategies.
This includes having access to the global
distributor lists of more than 300 brands
and store checks in at least 25 countries
per year.
How accurate is the contact data?
Export Solutions’ distributor database is
updated every day! Distributor company
names, web sites, and specialization
rarely change. This makes the database
98% accurate at the company level. The
distributors’ key contact for new product
inquiries and their email addresses
may change as a result of job moves.
Email address accuracy ranges from
80-90% depending on the country. We
employ three separate mechanisms
to keep up to date with changes.
What’s new?
Our database has expanded to 96 countries
and 9,300 distributors. It’s now searchable,
supplying country and category filter
inputs or brand names! We also offer
90-day access if you purchase a country
or category list. This allows you to work
online and enjoy “one click access” to
distributors’ web sites. Naturally, we
prefer that you purchase an annual
subscription with unlimited access to
the entire database for one year.
What is the difference between
Export Solutions’ distributor database
and other “lists”?
1. Created by industry export professionals,
not directory aggregators or other online
companies with no relevant food/consumer
goods industry experience.
2. Each distributor is personally validated
by Greg Seminara. Distributors can not
self register or pay to be in our database.
We know the difference between a
“best in class” distributor and a “one
man show.”
3. Our distributor database is designed
for manufacturers of branded products
normally sold through supermarkets,
pharmacies, and food service channels.
We do not include distributors of
commodities or ingredients.
4. Call us! Our specialization is
distributor search, with 300+ projects
completed. Contact us for a free copy
of our Distributor Search Guide.
5. Our database is searchable by country,
category specialization, brand name, or
a combination of all three filters.
Which type of companies use our database?
Database clients range from small start-
ups to the largest companies in food
and consumer goods. Export Solutions’
database has had more than 3,000 clients,
including brand owners from all over
the world. Leading government trade
organizations from USA, Italy, Germany,
and Brasil also develop special
agreements to gain access.
What product categories are covered?
Distributors include specialists for branded
food products, confectionery and snacks,
beverage, natural foods, gourmet products,
ethnic food, health and beauty care products,
household products, and general
merchandise. We offer oustanding coverage
of Italian, German, Spanish and UK food
distributors. Many distributors can handle
any product that is normally sold through
supermarkets, convenience, foodservice/
catering, or pharmacy trade channels.
What are best practices in getting the most
productivity from the database?
Successful companies use the database
to screen companies to develop a top five
list of high-potential candidates. They
send a short introductory email with
a web link to their company site. Then,
the export manager follows up with a
phone call within 48 hours. The database
is an excellent tool to invite potential
candidates to an international trade
show like Sial, Anuga, ISM or Sweets
and Snacks. Note: mass mailing
distributors usually generates less
than desirable results.
Does Export Solutions provide any additional
information on the distributors?
Export Solutions knows many of the
distributors in our database. Clients
of our Premium Subscription or Talk
to An Export Expert Services can gain
access to our insights via phone on the
best distributor candidates in any of
the 96 countries we cover.
How do I access the distributor database?
Visit www.exportsolutions.com and
click the distributor database page.
You can place a subscription or country
or category access into a shopping cart.
Register and check out via credit card.
The process takes two minutes and we
automatically send you an invoice.
FAQ’s Distributor Database
Search by Country
Coverage: 96 countries and 9,300 distributors
Search By Category
Confectionery & Snack
Gourmet/Ethnic Foods
Beverage (Ambient & Hot)
Italian Food
Natural Food
Health & Beauty
Search by Brand Name
Tracking distributors for more than 500
of the world’s most famous brands.
Combo Search
Enter multiple factors:
Example 1: Who are confectionary/snack
distributors in Japan?
Example 2: Who is the Barilla distributor
in Mexico?
Distributor Search Made Simple
Export Manager Report Card
Assessment Criteria Considerations
(10 = Best)
Annual Plan Development, Execution, Delivery Aligned, reliable, committed
Export Experience – Food/Consumer Products • New to 20 years +
Ability to Influence Distributors • Focused on your priorities
Pioneers New Business • From concept to containers
Work Ethic • Office time vs. overseas trips?
International Citizenship • Language skills, cultural alignment
Category Knowledge • Viewed as expert: buyers, distributors
Business Leadership • Partners with internal functions
Distributor Relationships • From sales reps. to owner
Thought Leadership • Creates and shares best practices
Export Strategy • Logical vision and road map
Profitable, Sustainable, Exports • Sells profitable cases
Retail Store Conditions • Brand presence vs. market share?
Brand Building – Promotions • Creativity, effectiveness, efficiency
Problem Solving – Response Time • Same day to one week?
Customer Relations • Senior access at top retailers
Analytical Skills: Shipments, Nielsen • Trends, opportunities, plan
Digital Savvy • E-commerce, social media
Supply Chain Management & Forecasting Accuracy and efficiency
Results vs Budget, Market,
Category (CY, PY, 3 Years)
• Flat to 10% +
A big difference exists in export strategy for SMCG (Slow Moving Consumer Goods) and companies committed
to FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brand building. Either model is okay. Many companies are en route
between SMCG and FMCG. Alignment between aspiration, investment, and perspiration drives realistic outcomes.
Export Journey: SMCG to FMCG
Aspirations Niche Participant Mass/Leader
Homesick Upscale Local
None Nielsen Consumer
Best sellers from
home market
Best sellers from
home market
Tailored to region
or country
Standard packs stickered Multilingual
Local language label
and pack size
Corporate HQ Corporate HQ Offshore
Super Premium Premium Competitive
None Sampling, Digital
360 Plans
TV, Digital
Trade Spend
None 10-20% Discount
Ad, Display
20-30% Discount
Route to Market
Niche distributor Mid -size distributor
Mass distributor or
Country Focus
Homesick Expats
Mid-size countries
plus USA
All countries
USA, China, Brasil
Homesick Expats
All channels
1 visit/year from HQ Regional manager Dedicated country manager
Low Moderate High
We’ve Got You Covered!
Distributor Database Coverage
Confectionery & Snack
2,737 Distributors
Ambient Beverage
1,716 Distributors
International Foods
3,316 Distributors
USA Importer/Distributor
608 Distributors
Middle East
940 Distributors
12 Countries
2,036 Distributors
17 Countries
Latin America
1,591 Distributors
3,155 Distributors
9,300 distributors 96 Countries
Subscribe now at www.exportsolutions.com
“Spend time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”