UK firm The Good Carb Food Company has set its sights on further expansion in Asia, where it is acting as a trail blazer for the granola category.
The Welsh company produces a range of seven granola breakfast cereal products and, director Nigel Bryan tells just-food, growing acceptance of western diets and an interest in healthy eating options has allowed it to grow its revenues in Asia.
“There are a lot of Asians that are now eating western foods and – like consumers in the west – they are also interested in eating healthily and controlling their weights,” he tells just-food.
“Ours is a low GR granola so we sell a lot to people who want to eat heathily because most granolas are full of sugar and most mueslis are full of sugar. It keeps you fuller for longer. It tastes good and it does you good…. We have seven products and we sell those products all over the world. We sell into every continent except South America at the moment.”
The firm’s largest export markets are in the Gulf – in particular Dubai, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Bryan reveals. Exports account for 25% of group revenue and, with a focus on expanding more in the high-growth Asian region, it seems likely the figure is set to grow.
“We are focusing on Asia because I think that is where the future is,” Bryan suggests.
The company has been exhibiting at Hong Kong trade show Hofex, which closes today (10 May). Here, it has met with its existing Chinese distributor and developed contacts to increase Asia distribution further still.
Within Asia the group already sells into Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Inndonesia and Japan. But the ambitious breakfast cereal maker plans to drive growth in the region. “I’m hoping to get more business in mainland China,” Bryan says, adding that the firm is also hoping to appoint distributors for Korea and Thailand.
“We tend to appoint one distributor for each country so you don’t have any conflict of interest. I tend to try and find small distributors that are owner run so you can develop a personal relationship with the distributor,” he sayd.
In export markets the company primarily sells into higher-end retailers. The Good Carb Food Company is also developing foodservice sales through the introduction of a single serving pack that is sold to four- and five-star hotels.
By focusing on the premium end of the export market, The Good Carb Food Company is able to generate returns that come in above some of its profit margins when selling into UK multiples, Bryan suggests. “At the moment we sell a lot of product to high end stores internationally. This generates some strong returns,” he says.
As The Good Carb Food Company looks to develop its presence in the burgeoning granola markets of Asia and the Middle East, Bryan believes it has some distinct advantage over multinational players. These include a greater focus on small wins in far flung markets and greater flexibility, he argues.
“I can go over there, I can make a decision instantly. I don’t have to report back to somebody or write a report. If I meet somebody and the price is right I can get on with it. Small companies are more flexible and that is why they develop categories.”
However, as these categories do develop, and The Good Carb Food Company develops a stronger market position, Bryan concedes the group could become a takeover target for a larger player.
“If the price is right everybody sells. But we enjoy what we are doing and we can be pretty flexible.”