Eamon Eastwood

Eamon Eastwood's Culinary Empire Goes Global

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Updated on March 20, 2024

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Many may not be aware of Eamon Eastwood’s humble beginnings in Cookstown before his rise to prominence in the global food industry.

He’s not simply an importer of iconic food brands; Eastwood’s shrewd business strategies and robust network have propelled him into a realm of remarkable success.

His story, from his early days in Australia to his current global market dominance, is a testament to his entrepreneurial prowess.

As we explore deeper, one might find themselves intrigued by the complexities of his journey, and the valuable lessons it offers.

Eastwood’s Entrepreneurial Journey


Originating from the modest town of Cookstown before making a name for himself in Australia, Eamon Eastwood began his entrepreneurial journey with a series of odd jobs, ultimately leading to his foray into the importation of iconic food brands. He quickly realized the potential in importing strategies, particularly in the food industry.

Eastwood’s acumen in recognizing niche markets, coupled with his innovative approach to sourcing products, set the groundwork for his burgeoning business. His success wasn’t solely a result of his strategic importing decisions; networking played a crucial role too. Eastwood’s ability to cultivate meaningful relationships within the industry provided him with opportunities to grow his business.

His journey reveals the power of combining strategic importing with effective networking, leading to entrepreneurial success.

Marketing and Distribution Tactics

Navigating through the complex world of marketing and distribution, Eastwood strategically harnessed the power of e-commerce to help his food importing business thrive. He used online promotions effectively, spotlighting the unique allure of his products, and creating an irresistible draw for a global customer base. His keen understanding of digital spaces amplified his brand’s reach, fostering a robust online presence.

Concurrently, Eastwood built strong retail partnerships, using these alliances to fortify his distribution network. He skillfully negotiated shelf space in supermarkets, placing his products in direct view of consumers. This dual strategy of leveraging e-commerce and retail partnerships has been central to Eastwood’s business success.

It’s an exemplary demonstration of how to navigate the intricate dance of marketing and distribution in today’s digital age.

Growth Trajectory and Future Endeavors

Charting an impressive growth trajectory, Eastwood’s culinary empire has matured from a small-scale import business to a global food network, with bold plans for future expansion. Eastwood’s strategic foresight aligns with future innovations and market trends, ensuring a sustainable growth pattern.

His plan to extend product lines, explore new markets, and leverage digital platforms showcase his vision for the empire’s expansion. Eastwood’s focus on understanding consumer needs and adapting to their changing tastes has been instrumental in this growth. He’s keen on integrating technology for improved customer experience and operational efficiency.

The empire’s future ventures include tapping into emerging markets, exploiting e-commerce potential, and enhancing product diversification. Eastwood’s commitment to quality and innovation has set the stage for the empire’s promising global journey.

Navigating Market Dynamics

Eamon Eastwood

In the face of evolving market dynamics, Eastwood’s culinary empire has shown remarkable agility, adeptly maneuvering through competition, consumer preferences, and geopolitical influences.

Adapting strategies to suit the changing landscape has been key to maintaining his stronghold, especially in the highly competitive Australian market. His approach to competitive analysis is both comprehensive and nuanced, taking into account not just direct competitors but also indirect market forces that could impact his business.

Eastwood’s ability to adapt quickly to new market trends and shifting consumer preferences has kept his brands relevant and appealing. Moreover, his savvy navigation of geopolitical influences showcases a deep understanding of the larger factors at play in global commerce.

Eastwood’s success serves as a compelling model for navigating market dynamics.

Global Expansion and Brand Positioning

With a keen eye on global trends and a solid grasp of brand positioning, Eastwood’s culinary empire has successfully ventured into international markets, diversifying its mainstream category and striking a balance between online, B2B, and retail channels.

Achieving a global market reach wasn’t a mere stroke of luck. It required meticulous planning, deep understanding of market dynamics, and effective brand identity strategies. His unique approach to brand positioning resonated with consumers worldwide, paving the way for an expansive market base.

The strategy involved a keen understanding of consumer behaviour, cultural nuances, and leveraging digital platforms for wider reach. Eastwood’s successful global expansion is a testament to the power of strategic brand positioning and the potential of the global food industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Personal Qualities and Characteristics Does Eamon Eastwood Attribute to His Success in the Food Industry?

Eamon Eastwood attributes his success to a blend of inherent entrepreneurial spirit, resilience, and innovation. He’s shown dynamic leadership, constantly adapting his strategies to market demands.

His journey from humble beginnings to leading a global food empire speaks volumes about his determination and business acumen. He’s leveraged his education, experiences, and networking to build, grow, and sustain his business.

Eamon’s story is a testament to his tenacity, vision, and leadership style.

Was There Any Specific Incident or Experience That Inspired Eastwood to Start His Own Food Business?

Eamon Eastwood’s motivation to start his own food business was stirred by nostalgia. Missing the tastes of home, he began importing his favorite Irish food brands to Australia.

He saw a gap in the market and seized the opportunity. This experience, a key part of Eastwood’s entrepreneurial journey, sparked his desire to connect expats with their home cuisine and eventually led to the creation of his global culinary empire.

How Does Eastwood Ensure the Quality and Authenticity of the Food Products He Imports?

Eastwood’s meticulous about the quality and authenticity of his imported products. He overcomes import challenges by establishing solid partnerships with reliable suppliers who share his commitment to quality.

He’s not just importing food, he’s preserving Ireland’s culinary heritage. Regular checks, personal relationships, and a thorough understanding of his supply chain ensure the products he brings to the global market are genuine, high-quality Irish goods.

How Does Eastwood Maintain a Balance Between Preserving the Traditional Elements of the Food Brands He Imports and Adapting Them to Fit the Tastes and Preferences of the Global Market?

Eamon skillfully maintains a balance between preserving the traditional elements of food brands and adapting them for global tastes. He uses preservation techniques to keep the authenticity intact while employing ‘global adaptation’ strategies to cater to international preferences.

It’s a delicate act, but he’s proven adept at navigating the balance. The result is a unique offering that satisfies both those yearning for a taste of home and those eager to try new flavors.

What Are the Sustainability and Environmental Considerations That Eastwood Takes Into Account in His Business Operations?

Eamon’s conscious of his environmental impact. He’s incorporated green packaging, reducing waste throughout his supply chain.

He’s also actively managing his supply chain to minimize carbon footprint. He’s constantly seeking sustainable solutions, ensuring his global culinary empire doesn’t compromise the planet’s health.

It’s a delicate balance, but he’s committed to making it work.


Eamon Eastwood’s journey from humble beginnings to culinary magnate serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. His innovative marketing tactics, understanding of market dynamics, and global expansion strategies underscore his business acumen.

Eastwood’s story is a testament to the power of education, experience, and networking in building a successful global business. His culinary empire continues to thrive, promising further growth and expansion, offering valuable insights into the world of food entrepreneurship.

Video Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:06)
Welcome to the amazing food and drink summit and today we’re going to talk to Eamonn Eastwood from Australia. We’re going to talk about exporting your food product, we’re going to talk about the australian food market and we’re going to talk about how to set up your food business for success.

Speaker 2 (00:20)
So, Eamonn, thank you very much for.

Speaker 1 (00:22)
Taking time out to talk to us today. If you wouldn’t mind telling us a little bit about your background.

Speaker 2 (00:26)
Thanks, Jaren, a pleasure to be part of the show. It’s great that we’re all living through Zoom these days, so we might as well take advantage. So I’m speaking to most of my family all the time, now more than ever through WhatsApp, so why not? Look, my background, I’m actually from Cookstown in county Toronto. My surname is Eastwood and I just highlight that because when I was growing up, all our relatives had businesses throughout Cookstown. The name Eastwood was all over the streets and stuff. And I remember a friend asking one time in school, was that a brand name or was it a family name? So the business gene was in us from birth, really. I remember working on the weekends in my granddad’s clothes shop. My uncle had the cinema and we had a pub and the bookies. So it was really part of born and bred into a business, if you like. I was educated in Cookstown as well as in Marafeld and done the secondary education St Piuses. And then by hooker, by crook, I got a place in the University of Glasgow. Wasn’t academically gifted. My whole focus in life was to be a professional footballer for Manchester United.

Speaker 2 (01:47)
And like every kid, I suppose, and that’s all I cared about up until the age of 617 18, when I had to get a reality cheque. So I scripted a university, I done marketing and that really gave me a new focus. Wasn’t going to be the professional footballer, but I really gelled with a particular marketing lecture, funny enough, and he talked about consumer psychology and marketing in general that sparked a real interest in me and excelled in that subject and that sort of led me down to the path into business and marketing. After graduating, I done an explorers programme, which is a Northern Ireland initiative. You’ve probably heard of it and I don’t know what it’s called now, it has different names over the years, but basically for the listeners who don’t know, it was matching recent graduates with NI businesses or irish businesses who wanted to explore export markets. So I had still an itchy feet. I didn’t really want to go back home after four years in Glasgow. So I decided, yeah, I’ll take this programme on and see where it leads. I was matched with a Belfast tour operator. It was just on the eve of the ceasefire.

Speaker 2 (03:01)
Basically, it was 98. So there was a degree of optimism, I suppose, that tourism would flourish in the north. And I spent three months with the company, learning the products and their services. We developed a tour of the north. So I got to go around all the lovely tourist attractions and hotels and build this brochure. And then I was just threw into New York and got an apartment in Queens. It was 22, 21, 22 at the time, so it was thinkorswim, really, and it was a huge learning curve. But I was with 30 other graduates who were representing 30 other companies. And we got a brilliant induction in San Francisco for about a week’s induction training. Then we got a mid year review and it was all really good business education, but we were very accountable and we had to deliver, basically, for our companies. And I remember one funny story. I went down to Brooklyn to promote the tours, and the guy was the president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day, of the New York parade, which is a big deal, right? Because they do it brand over. And so I went in there with my little brochure and my cheeksuit on me and friggin promoting this little tour of the north.

Speaker 2 (04:20)
And apparently there was some incident, I think it was around parades or something, right? And it just hadn’t all simmered down back home. And he threw the paper down in front of me and he goes, you want me to send my customers to that place? So it was a quick way of learning how to deal with rejection. And I suppose we had to sort of reshape ourselves and we got a partner over there in Boston, and we became the grindhanders in Belfast. And it worked, but we had to sort of reshape it. So it was a great way of sort of learning on the go. And then soon after that, as a backpacker, I arrived in Sydney in 2000 for the Olympic Games, and I’ve been here ever since.

Speaker 1 (05:06)
Incredible. Never look back. What a story. And again, when you’re saying about your hometown again, there must be something in the genes for sure. So I’m from Clonus and my uncle had the pub on the diamond, another uncle had the pub on the high street, didn’t have the cinema now, so I’m a bit jealous there. Closed down. I remember going to see the never ending story in that. That’s how long ago that is. But what great days of growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland. Amazing. And you talk about the schemes and the know. It’s incredible. The opportunities we get to go around the world and experience these schemes are incredible. What an experience.

Speaker 2 (05:53)
Yeah, look, it was fantastic. I still get friends from that programme and you talk about Ross community. I think sport and business are great levellers and we came from all different backgrounds and when you’re doing business together, it doesn’t matter. So it was really an eye opener for me. I suppose I just got the gene to travel and explore business further afield. But as you’ll hear later, it’s about using that irish connexion as well and trying to create a concept out of that.

Speaker 1 (06:26)
Incredible. And you’re in the food industry now?

Speaker 2 (06:29)
Yeah, absolutely. We’re an import and distributor of food brands, iconic international food brands in Australia. So the business started off in 2004, doing a bit of moonlighting as a backpacker. I was doing any jobs, really construction for a while. I was Farman and just trying to gather up a few dollars to try and maybe start something. But ultimately I wanted to try and get into a role that anything to do with marketing and so forth. So not necessarily through the dust stage, but I think from the experience in New York, it gave me an idea of know could I represent two or three companies down here, I could maybe create my own business and lo and behold, I ended up sponsoring myself and staying in the country through this whole venture, which is just a different story. A different story. But ultimately I started off very small. I actually raffled, would you believe, a pack of tattoo in an irish pub in Sydney at a football fundraiser. And I raffled it for $25 and I remember it well because he paid for it and then he gave it to his Galway girlfriend. So that was a very crude piece of market research.

Speaker 2 (07:54)
I wasn’t particularly good at miles, but look, if I could sell tattoos for $25, I knew it was on for a winner. But look, that planted the seed. And funny enough, I ordered a pallet of chips, chips, as they call them out here. I stored them in my bedroom and I delivered them to pubs at night after my full time job. And that really sort of started give me a bit more confidence, the belief that maybe I could do this, knew very little about importing or maritime insurance or customs and quarantine and all the various things that I had to learn very quickly. But it was a really good trial and error. I sold that pallet of 50 boxes to five or six irish pubs in Sydney and then soon after that, I put a full container in the water and then I quit my job and I took it serious. So registered a company called KS Ireland. Started building up our own distribution of about 200 customers. Independence cafes, pubs, convenience stores. Kind of target where a lot of the backpackers were living, a lot of the irish expats, and they’re the obvious customer.

Speaker 2 (09:06)
And then in 2004, which is just after the.com bubble, I launched an online store. Don’t know if that was a good wise thing at the time or not, but it was again, a huge learning experience for me to have an online store. So it was omnichannel from day one where we were servicing the end user as well as the retailer. And it was good because you’re bringing over these perishable goods from the other end of the world, you got to move them quick because they’re going out of date every day. And that was one of our greatest challenges is the whole demand planning and forecasting to get the right amount of stock here so we could service our customers and make sure the stock was in beard. So certainly in the early days that was a challenge, but we’ve come a lot more sophisticated now. So that took us up to about 2011.

Speaker 1 (09:52)
Amazing. I’m just thinking, such a young ecommerce site and today we do a lot of obviously web work and it’s just incredible how many businesses are coming into us still today and saying, do you think going online is a good idea? And you’re just going, oh, my word, it’s the only way you think. Covid would have taught us one thing, but there’s still opportunities. How did you find early day ecommerce to where your business is now?

Speaker 2 (10:25)
Yeah, look, I mean, it was such a learning curve, I suppose. I mean, e commerce was quite an infancy there and because I hadn’t even started then, right, so it worked. But I think the main way of marketing back then for us, I was gathering emails, I was going to irish functions and promoting a hamper, a free hamper or something, and gathering business cards and building up the database. And then I was always big into the newsletter, the EDM, and it was always really content rich, even back then. And we’ve gone through dips where it was become really product focused, but now it’s back to sort of its roots where it’s more community and content rich, at least the weekly EDM back then we might have joke of the week and recipe of the week and brand focus and it was really built up a really strong engagement and I knew every time I send out a newsletter would get maybe $1,000 revenue or something. So I knew something was working. That was about the height of the marketing. I think at that time, I probably don’t ran traditional marketing. I put an ad in the Irish Echo, which was the irish community newspaper.

Speaker 2 (11:37)
But I loved know, I loved the idea of the reach. And the one key thing was people in Ireland could shop online and we’d send the goods to their friends and family in Australia. So that was gold. And that was never the initial attention, but by God, it has become the focus, especially around Christmas. So all of a sudden, we were connecting the global Irish through food, and that became the tagline where we were a real tangible. I mean, the irish community is quite rich here and diverse like the states. We’ve been here, the Irish have been here for 300 years, so it’s in the fabric of society here. So all of a sudden we had something really tangible within the community. The street names were irish and the politicians were irish and Ned Kelly, and all of a sudden we had the irish products here for the first time ever. There was no irish products here ever. There’s Guinness and whiskey. So I think that created a real buzz and something really tangible. And then social media came out maybe three years later, and that really worked amazingly well for us. It was a potent mix of a digital community, but somebody living away from home, and then they could get their products and they can connect with home and talk about that.

Speaker 2 (12:53)
And that whole mix was really good for our business. So even though we were a traditional distributor, wholesale distributor, we had this powerful ecommerce retail wing happening as well, where we’re touching the customer, understanding the customer, and I think that makes us quite different from traditional food distributors down here. So we have continued with that omnichannel sometimes to the objection from some people in the team here, they think it’s a distraction sometimes, and is it a marketing channel or is it profitable? But it’s working really well and I’m glad we stuck with it.

Speaker 1 (13:35)
Incredible. Yeah, for sure. It’s a great story. You’re going down a channel for marketing and then something else happens that wasn’t expected. So again, you’re thinking of setting up e commerce and selling in Australia, but actually the customers are coming from Ireland and buying. Do you find that often happens in.

Speaker 2 (14:01)
I mean, I think in this day and age where the market’s moving, so, know you have to sort of put it out there, be agile enough to move. And if you see revenue coming from this direction, well, then all of a sudden, that’s the focus. And I think that’s really prevalent in marketing today, where it’s testing, it’s a b testing. And if that doesn’t work, stop doing it and kill it quick and try something else. And that’s the reality of business. I think you got to be nimble enough to move where things are working and stop things that are not.

Speaker 1 (14:37)
No. Brilliant. It is exactly. Amazing. Great to hear. And this is the thing, you often see people who don’t take risks and try something new in marketing. But if you’re not trying, you get to know fast or maybe you get the win. So what a result. Incredible. So if someone who isn’t in Australia at the moment, not that a wee bit jealous, obviously, looking out at the rain today, you’d be, well, you sat. So if we’re looking at your business today, what do we see? You’re supplying the irish community, then you’ve got online and you’re supplying shops and bars and cafes with irish goods.

Speaker 2 (15:13)
Yeah, so I stopped off there when I was chatting about the business up to 2011. So it really took a massive turn in 2011 where we get national distribution in the large supermarket down here called Woolworth. So we get into 600 stores and we get five products listed in 2011. Two years later, we get into the second large supermarket, Coles, and they’re into 700 stores. So now we’re up into 2000 stores. National distribution in Woodworks and coals, we own a geopolite. And that’s, I think one of the earlier or later points that I was going to touch on is the dynamics of this market is it is a geopoly. Woodworks and Coles own 75% of the retail market down here. So if you want to move any product in terms of volume, you got to play with these guys. Whereas in the UK and Ireland, Europe, there’s a lot more players. And I think it’s a far better competitive landscape, at least for the vendor and the customer. So we had to play ball with these two in the first year. We get into Woolworths, it was tough because they were sort of trying to screw us.

Speaker 2 (16:18)
We didn’t have Coles to leverage off them. We get into Coles and then we start leveraging a little bit. The negotiation was a bit better, but you’re a small fry compared to these guys. They’re both $30 billion companies. They own the whole retail landscape. Like, I mean, from nearly farm to liquor store to the petrol stations to supermarkets, everything. Like, they really are a huge concern down here. But anyway, if we get into those two guys, they’re now at least 70% of our revenue, Karen, and that’s fine, we just got to manage that. We want to build up the independent retail space to derisk that. So we’re not completely reliant on these two guys because they can change at any time. We need to be nimble enough to be bringing in brands that are on trend, have a point of difference and will keep us relevant, and we’re doing that. The rebrand from TS Ireland with TS was very deliberate. Just over a year ago, the online store, sorry, is still TS Ireland. We kept that very expat on our roots. But the b to B business, the wholesale distribution business, into the retailers, we changed ts and that’s how we sort of stay relevant.

Speaker 2 (17:36)
Another proportion of our business, about 15%, is the independents, the pubs, cafes, convenience stores, the delis, the butchers. We’ve developed a b two b portal to try and service them easier. So it’s one click, it’s like an app, we get sent into a text message, the retailer gets it. These are small business owners, they’re busy sending in reps all the time. Isn’t that easy? Isn’t always productive or cost effective. So this app has made life a lot easier and we really want to sort of push that a lot more. And then the last sort of proportion of our revenue is the online business, the online store that I spoke about. So that’s where we’re up to know, it’s an omni channel business. Each channel is like spinning plates. I’m having different conversations with different players in the know. So 1 minute I’m dealing with somebody who’s going to issue a Mary Murphy buying t down in Melbourne for herself and then the next minute I’m dealing with a buyer from Woolworths who’s trying to screw us on a promotion rebate or something. So never a dull moment, but I thoroughly enjoy it and just staying ahead of the curve, I suppose, and trying to stay relevant is what it’s all about.

Speaker 1 (18:54)
Amazing, what a journey. And as we all know, you’re only probably 5% or 2% of the way. There’s a lot more work to do, for sure. If anyone’s watching this and wondering, you’ve got into Coles and Woolworths, two amazing brands in Australia. Everyone around the world knows these and great companies to work with. Was it easy to get in? Was it hard? Did you have to keep knocking the door?

Speaker 2 (19:20)
It’s actually a funny story. Look, we built up a fairly good bit of traction for about five years with the independence. So we created a bit of noise. And it’s funny, one of our customers, this is how we get into Woolworth. It didn’t make the negotiation any easier now, when it came down to it. But anyway, this is how the buyer heard about us. He was a New Zealand buyer and his neighbour was an irish guy, right? And the irish guy had bought from us online and he bought a relish, Bally Maloo relish. And they were having a barbecue together and the buyer asked, the guy goes, where did he get this? And our label was in the back of it. And lo and behold, the timing was good too, because Woolworths and Coles had started the international thing. I mean, it’s a very multicultural society down here, probably a lot more than Ireland. Dublin is probably getting there in Belfast, but certainly Australia is a really melting pot of different nationalities. So they were really starting to invest a lot more in the international food aisle. And prior to 2011, they were expecting companies delivered direct to store, right?

Speaker 2 (20:25)
So you got to get the products to the store as opposed to going through their distribution centre, which isn’t very profitable. But they were testing that with probably 100 stores or so. And that was just a bit before our time. But when they started the ticket really serious, and put it into maybe 500 of their 900 stores and create internationalised UK and Ireland and New Zealand and South Africa and so forth, that’s when they came knocking on our door. And this is how they heard about us. And I didn’t hear about that until maybe three years later. So the buyer didn’t tell me that. I heard it from the grapevine, through the Samarish customer. But anyway, they invited me in again then with the products, their samples. And I had to learn so quickly in terms of dealing with these supermarkets. I had to hire different staff. I remember networking ferociously with people who are currently dealing with Wilbur’s and Coles. How do they sort of structure their pricing? How do they put promotional plans together? How do you protect your margin? How do you negotiate with these boys in terms of positioning on the shelf?

Speaker 2 (21:38)
There’s just so much to take on in that short space of time. So that was another huge learning curve. By the time Coles came knocking two years later, we were ready. Because of the experience with Wolver’s, we had to move to a different warehouse. We had to get a bigger distribution centre ourselves, different technology. We had to use entry management system. So there was just a lot of steep learning curve around that time. But now we’re embedded with those guys. We’ve been doing business with them for nearly eight years, going really well with them in the international category and really keen to move on into mainstream categories as well. Looking at other categories like health or baking or tea, wherever we can find relevance.

Speaker 1 (22:24)
Incredible. And again, most people, I’m thinking, listen to know the ordinary person is looking at you. Just give your product to the shop and it appears on the.

Speaker 2 (22:35)
Yeah, because it’s funny you said that, because we used to get Facebook messages from customers and can you get this and can you get that? And you can get that into wilvers. And I’d bite my tongue because me coming from the sort of buyer point of view, I’m thinking, if you only knew how hard it was to get the current products in there. So customers just want what they want. But the reality, the commercial reality of getting products in here, the compliance, the labelling, the ingredients, is a different story.

Speaker 1 (23:06)
And then what’s the process for a food business to expand through exports? So I guess you’re importing from Ireland and taking it out to Australia. So most of your products then are imported from here at the moment, but you’re potentially going to expand that.

Speaker 2 (23:25)
Yeah. So all our products at the minute, there’s a few out of Europe, but most of them are out of Ireland. We take everything out of Ireland and even some of the UK products, but we’re exporting out of UK as well. But we can source a lot of them through item, which helps us consolidate. But we do deal directly with the manufacturers and you can really only do that as a distributor. When you’re going into the supermarkets, it’s okay dealing with maybe wholesalers and so forth for the independence and maybe an online business, but when you’ve got the pressures of dealing with the supermarkets and the margin, and you need the support from the supplier. So, for example, some of our suppliers are Britwick Barry’s, Tea Bally, Malo Tito in the south of Ireland, the Valleyo Food group, which own brilliant brands like Odlin’s, Bachelors, Jacobs. So really iconic, well known brands throughout Ireland and the UK are our sort of staple brands that we manage down here. Incredible. Your question there was about.

Speaker 1 (24:34)
How do food businesses in general expand through exports? So would you have any tips or advice? I’m guessing there’ll be a few companies here that sell in Ireland. But is exports critical, I guess, for any business to grow?

Speaker 2 (24:52)
Yeah, look, I think at the end of the day, it’s a global marketplace now and I think the Internet has created a levelling field for distribution. You can imagine 30 years ago, Coca Cola, they owned the distribution channels. You go into any fridge, any cafe, any pub, it was coke everywhere. And tick beer is an example as well. The big beer companies ruled the roost, but now craft beers are creeping in, healthier kombuchas are coming in and all of a sudden people are having not an easier, but it’s not as straightforward as the traditional distribution channels. So I like the term a global micro brand where you can think of a gin distillery in Ireland and can all of a sudden distribute all over the world and market through social and use marketplaces, emarketplaces to distribute their alcohol, as opposed to maybe traditional distributors even is another route to market to consider the use of three PL, three third party logistics where you’re using an outsourced warehouse and they do all your pickpack and all of a sudden you’ve got maybe a three PL in two different countries, three different countries, and you’re controlling everything from nI, like all your marketing, you become a marketing and branding business and you’ve outsourced all your distribution.

Speaker 2 (26:18)
So I think there’s weird and wonderful ways with the onset of technology to really explore global markets in a safe way. You don’t have to blow a million bucks to try and test the market, particularly if you’re a small brand, a niche brand in a market. So I would first of all say you’d have to get proof of concept and traction in your own market if you really want to use the distributor route and get into supermarkets. The business that we deal with, this is what I would suggest. The other example there was probably how to do it by not getting distribution into big supermarkets in other countries, maybe for more smaller businesses, but for sort of medium to large sized businesses, certainly you’d want some proof of concept in your own domestic market because you’re going to iron out a lot of problems. You want good scan data, that’s data at the till, to then show buyers overseas that this product is actually working in this domestic market, because that’s the first thing they want to ask is, well, why would we take a risk on your product when it’s not even selling in your domestic market?

Speaker 2 (27:33)
So what I mean by traction is probably up to half a million sterling pound in revenue. You want to network with board B and invest NI and other like minded export bodies. You could even explore using export marketing agents. So there’s agents there in the UK and Ireland who will take on a number of brands and then they’ll market it the export markets for you might be a commission or something involved in that model is to understand a particular export market has your product at a particular point of difference. For that market. Putting in baby formula, milk formula into Australia might come up with dairy restrictions, for example, because they’ve got dairy content restrictions, because they’re trying to protect their own dairy market. So it’s just prudent to be over those sort of details and then just. Is it commercially viable? You have to take into consideration the FX, the exchange rate between wherever you’re exporting from UK or Ireland into Australia. What’s the exchange rate? What does the product land for? So you sell it to me for a dollar or a pound, I convert that into the australian dollar, it’s a dollar 70, it lands 20% shipping cost, it’s $2.10. All of a sudden it’s $2.10 when it arrives here.

Speaker 2 (29:03)
And then we have to put our margin on it. The retailer puts their margin on it and then the customer has to buy it. So we usually start off Kieran, where we develop a margin tree where we work back from the retail point. So you say, right, I’ve got this new healthy drink that is going to blow your mind. It’s new tropics or something, right? Plant based nootropics drink, really trending. And I selling really well in Tesco. And then we try and do the margin tree and you give me your wholesale cost. We’ve done the margin tree exercise. We’ve looked at competitors in the market and they’re sitting around maybe $2.50 in the market here. Right. And then with your commercials and our commercials, it’s working out maybe $4 sitting on the shelf and it’s just not going to work. So that’s what we have to do. And we’ve done it recently with a really nice, healthy brand out of Ireland, actually. And unfortunately, it’s just not commercially viable. So it’s just a reality we have to have. It has to be done. Early days.

Speaker 1 (30:12)
Yeah. But it’s incredible. You’re so experienced. You’ve developed a system that can actually tell you before you get too far down the road if it’s going to work or not, because you can.

Speaker 2 (30:23)
You can go into a rabbit hole, you can get excited about these brands and they’ll get excited about an export opportunity, but ultimately, yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head. It is a system. It’s just another process within the business to try and. Okay, cool, great product. Let’s put it through the rigour and see if it’s got legs. No, it hasn’t. Here’s the facts, let’s address it if the circumstances change.

Speaker 1 (30:49)
Incredible. Yeah, because again, back to the long no or the quick no. Give me the quick no idea. Because, as you say, especially for small businesses or medium sized businesses, as you say, that they’re focused on it losing direction elsewhere when they should be going elsewhere. So, no, really good. So exporting may not work for every business?

Speaker 2 (31:08)
No, not at all. And that’s fine. And maybe it’s not that market. There’s so many different markets you can explore that are maybe more favourable to the exchange rate or for what’s trending at that time. But I certainly know that some of the innovation that’s coming out of Ireland is mean. I think there’s plenty of scope for Ni food brands to explore various different markets. I think the Middle east is working very well for the north at the minute and I know invest NI have put a lot of work in there, but equally south America and of course Asia, there’s plenty of opportunities there.

Speaker 1 (31:46)
Incredible. A sideless question, I guess. We know Ireland, irish products are seen globally, around the world, in my opinion, as really high quality and we talk about Ni and Ireland. Do the consumers see a difference? Do they see irish or do they see ni. Do they actually hunt for that or is it generally irish products?

Speaker 2 (32:12)
I would say it’s generally irish products. I think it’s a very good thing that New Zealand have done, actually a really good example where they have mixed food and tourism together and marketed into China. They have a very similar economy to ours in terms of similar size, agriculture based, traditionally same population. We’ve got a big brother that we don’t always like. Ours is Australia and potentially, you know, a lot of multinational companies like Ireland would test New Zealand before they go into Australia and stuff. So there’s so many similarities and I thought one thing that I’ve seen recently is how New Zealand marketed themselves as a tourism and food business, a food country destination. And I think Ireland can do that really well and I think they’re starting to do tourism, Ireland and board beer working closer together, I suppose I’ve dealt a lot with the southern brands over the years and certainly work very closely with board beer and I think their food sustainable programme is world class. So I know that they’ve got ambitions to be. I think it’d be 15 billion in export or 2020, 416 billion in exports. It used to be twelve, but I think they’ve increased it.

Speaker 2 (33:35)
So very aggressive, sort of monetary targets. But their programme is brilliant in that if you want to be supported by the board b programme and introduced to export markets, then you got to hit these certain criteria in terms of sustainability and all of a sudden that gives you a lot of credibility in the export market and it opens a hell of a lot of doors. So I think their strategic approach, and I think they done a paper with Harvard, I remember going back to the marketplace there. They do a marketplace trade show for distributors every couple of years down the RDS it was. And they were sort of showing us on how their food companies are educated and how they have to take the sustainable approach if they want to be promoted by the government. So they’re definitely in the right path. And I think investor and I aren’t too far behind. I think they’re taking approaches. They have an office here in Sydney now, so it’s great to see.

Speaker 1 (34:32)
Isn’t it incredible that the guidelines and encouragement for businesses, because you’re starting out, you don’t know nothing, you just try to really get the money in, the cash in and keep the cost down. But the guidelines, the bumper reels are there to try and keep you on the straight and arrow and if you do make it, then you’re in a great path for global domination, all being well. But it’s amazing to hear and it does make you proud. The perception of Ireland and irish food, north, south, globally, it’s brilliant. What an amazing perception of some of our most important industries here, agriculture, going back how many years and everything else. I’ve got two or three last questions. I better let you go because I know it’s late with you now in sunny or still. I’m still a wee bit upset about the weather, but anyway, we’ll not go there.

Speaker 2 (35:26)
It was 18 degrees today, so it’s quite cold. Quite cold.

Speaker 1 (35:29)
Yeah, I could open the window. Only the whole computer be covered in rain. But what to do? Is the food industry in Australia, is it very similar to Ireland or is there real differences that people need to be aware of?

Speaker 2 (35:44)
Yeah, look, I think that’s a good question. I think because of its multicultural sort of focus, as I touched on earlier there, Kieran, it certainly is a melting pot of cuisines down here. Really sophisticated coffee culture. So much so they’ve exported into New York their coffee culture in terms of Aussie cafes in there. I know Ireland’s coffee culture is certainly on the rise as. Yeah, you know, because of the outdoor lifestyle and the Al fresco coffee lifestyle and everybody’s drinking their coffees or their wee pinkies. So it really is a way of life, that cafe culture. And then when you’ve got the close proximity to Asia and all the wonderful cuisines that come out of there, I mean, asian fusion restaurants are so popular down here where you’re fusing all the different asian countries together, but you’ve got Vietnam and you’ve got Thailand and China and all the likes. So that’s one the middle eastern influence. A lot of lebanese, Muslim and christian and all their cuisines. And then after the irish and english settlers were the Europeans and the Greeks and Italians, and they put such a massive influence down here in terms of food that sort of gives a real nice flavour down here and diversity in terms of the cuisine.

Speaker 2 (37:07)
Yeah, and as I say, I suppose the domination of Woolworths and Coles sort of gives a different sort of flavour down here in terms of that geopoly compared to back home. But they’re getting slowly but surely there’s different players coming into the market. Aldi came in recently, about five years ago, six years ago. They’re now 15% of the market, which is massive. We’ve got Amazon arrived two years ago and they’re slowly but surely adopting their model. Things are starting to fragment a little bit in terms of the retail landscape, but certainly the options and flavours are fantastic.

Speaker 1 (37:48)
Incredible. And again, if there’s any small irish food businesses watching this, would you recommend exporting? Looking at that, is that something that you would push companies to do or you go with caution?

Speaker 2 (38:05)
Well, I think, as I touched on a little bit earlier, depending on your size, certainly you’d want to get the domestic market right first, get a bit of traction, the domestic market, and then seek out your government bodies, invest ni make sure they know you exist and say that you’re interested in export. You really want to explore it and then you do your homework in terms of what markets do you feel that your product would stand out and why you don’t want to export to a market, really, and be another metoo brand. You want some sort of, whether it’s the ingredients, the packaging, is it biodegradable, is it a flavour profile that is new, something that is going to create a bit of a moat around your brand and it just could be the brand story as well. Obviously, the heritage, the providence is very important too, and to really use that. So I think to get that right first, you don’t want to go into a market where you’re just going to be, I suppose, blend in very quickly. You want to have some sort of strong point of difference and that’s a tough thing to do.

Speaker 2 (39:18)
Let’s be fair. It’s fiercely competitive. When you step outside your own backyard and start mixing it with global brands, then you’d want a point of difference. But then again, you want to pick your channel correctly, you want to pick your distribution partner correctly. We focus mainly on international european brands, so our network, our channels are focused towards that. So it’s important to get the right distribution partner as well. But look, I think in this day and age, in a global market, yes, I would encourage it, but you got to do your homework and slice and dice the market to suit yourself.

Speaker 1 (40:00)
Incredible. Great advice. And my second last question. There’s a lot of trends that we see recently. I guess vegan food consumers taste demands are changing. Do you see that locally there? And is it important that brands keep evolving?

Speaker 2 (40:16)
Yeah, absolutely. I think with Australia’s sort of healthy outdoor lifestyle, I know that we’ve adopted some of the trends quicker than some european countries and I think that fluctuation of people coming in here all the time in different countries is fantastic for diversity and ideas. The whole sustainable movement is here. The vegan thing is on the rise. Plant based is on the rise. Everybody’s out running and down at the beach and surfing, so it’s in the consciousness for that sort of healthy lifestyle anyway. But we’re certainly seeing that. I’ve got a colleague, he’s just launched a new business here for a probiotic drink. So he wants to take on your cult, the little probiotic shot that is just because I know so much about his business. He’s researched it really well and your cult is a lot of sugar, basically. And he wants to make his a lot healthier, sugar free and the right number of probiotics and it’s a daily shot and stuff. So gut health is massive. You’ve seen the rise of Kabucha, so absolutely, it’s a must. We’re speaking with a number of brands at the minute. We’re in negotiation, so I can’t mention what the brands are, but there’s one of them out of Ireland and the other two out of one UK and one is european brand and they’re all in their own right.

Speaker 2 (41:48)
They’ve got a point of difference. They’ve got traction in the domestic market. One is sort of like good for you, good for the environment. So it’s a healthy product, but it also is biodegradable packaging. So these are the things that the buyers are interested in. These are the things that I think I would probably say a younger generation, Ygen, Xgen, are interested in. They’re really interested in the environment and where the packaging is going to end up. So we have to be conscious of that as a distributor and what products that we take on and try and stay ahead of the curve.

Speaker 1 (42:32)
Incredible. Amazing.

Speaker 2 (42:33)

Speaker 1 (42:34)
Again, thank you very much for sharing your story with us today. I guess my final question is, what’s next for you in the business? And if anyone wants to find out, cheque out your website, see what they’re doing, connect. What’s the best way for people to do that?

Speaker 2 (42:51)
Yeah, I often think about the exits or the succession, but I’m probably five to ten years before to do that. I really want to build this business up to possibly close to 50 million in terms of a revenue figure. And then potentially it could be an exit, a sale, a trade sale, perhaps. To get there in that space of time, I think we have to be fairly prudent in who we take on as brand partners. I think we need to really get into mainstream here in Australia in a big way, that we’re partnering with the right brands, brands that are trending, brands that have a point of difference, that of course we’ve got the right exclusive arrangement with that brand, so it gives us time and money to invest in the brand together. Acquiring other businesses, I think, is another quicker way to get there. So maybe we could pick up a few brands or a few companies along the way to acquire. But I still will run with the omnichannel here and I think, as I say, I love that online and the wholesale together where we’re sort of touching the end user, we’re learning from the end user, we’re engaging with them through social, we’re promoting our brands through social and various other means, but we’re also distributing into large supermarkets in a big way as well.

Speaker 2 (44:22)
And that whole offer appeals to me, so I don’t know where that’s going to go. I mean, with technology, it’s exciting. Emarketplaces. I love the idea of a marketplace, potentially a marketplace for international foods down here. It’s something that, it really floats my boat. So it’s around food, it’s around technology, it’s around distribution. And where that takes us, I never try and lock down a three year plan these days. I think a one year plan is long enough, but the game plan is to grow to that revenue point. And I suppose an exit is the ultimate goal.

Speaker 1 (45:03)

Speaker 2 (45:05)
Contact me. I’m on LinkedIn, Eamon Eastwood. So, yeah, reach out to me.

Speaker 1 (45:11)
There brilliant. Thank you again. I’m going to have to get pen and put a line through my revenue targets here. You put me under pressure. I’m going to have to, have to find a few knots somewhere. But amazing. I’m going to have to keep an eye and see the domination continue of the australian international food market. But again, thank you very much for your time today. Really enjoyed it, learned a lot and what we’ll do as well. We’ll make sure there’s a link below this video and I’m watching it to Eamonn’s LinkedIn and we’ll put a link also to his website as well. So you go and cheque out and of course if you have any irish friends or friends in Australia and you want to surprise them, then you know where to go and buy a gift locally and there’ll no doubt be very happy people. So again, thank you very much. Amen. I really appreciate it. Thank you for watching this video. I hope you enjoyed the summit, the conversation so far and you’ve learned loads. Do connect with Eamon and cheque out his company in the links below. And of course, please do share the summit online and we’ll see you in the next video.

Speaker 2 (46:11)
Thank you again.

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