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What do successful Swedish food suppliers do when expanding to new European markets?

Many Swedish food suppliers seek to put their products on the shelves of the large European food retailers to grow their revenues. Some try and succeed, but others also try and fail. Failure is seldom due to the product itself, but rather not investing enough time and effort into researching the market beforehand. What most successful companies all have in common, is that they invest in getting to know the market before approaching potential customers or partners.

The differences between Sweden and its neighbours are often negligible, yet the small nuances matter. An example is packaging for hard cheese in Germany. In Sweden, it is mainly sold in 200-1000 gram pieces; while in Germany, most of the cheese is sold pre-sliced. Knowing this is crucial if you want to sell cheese to Germany. Packaging is one example, taste preferences another. While some countries have consumers with strong preferences for sweeter foods, other may have low tolerance for salt.  

Differences may not only be in packaging and taste, but pricing, labelling, storytelling and marketing. You should therefore consider the possibility of adapting your product in order to fulfil local market requirements and to match consumers’ taste. What is then the best way to start getting to know a market and your potential customers?

3 recommended first steps to get closer to your export markets:

  1. Visit stores of your prioritised customers. Consider retailers with an inner city location as well as in the countryside to understand potential regional differences.

  2. Get a holistic picture of the market landscape. Also evaluate and visit retail chains which you do not consider a match for your products.

  3. Study competitor products. Closely look at competitor products e.g. price, ingredients, packing, labelling, branding, sizes, marketing to understand where and how your product fit in.

Do you want to know more about how to accelerate your growth by reaching the food retailers in Europe? Contact your local Business Sweden office and we are happy to give you hands on advice and tools to reach your full international potential.

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Maria Varnauskas

Manager, Food Industry Stockholm Manager, Food Industry, Stockholm
+46 70 815 02 63