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In the first of our series on exporting from North Canterbury, we talk to Nik Mavromatis of Greystone Wines in Waipara.
ENC: When did you start exporting?
Nik: We began exporting in 2009 to Australia which is virtually like selling in New Zealand, there are very similar rules and cultures. We currently export to 21 different countries including the UK, USA and China and having those different markets does diversify your risk.
ENC: Why did you decide to start exporting?
Nik: To be honest, we wouldn’t be here without exporting, we produce 20,000 cases of premium wine a year and there simply isn’t the market in New Zealand. We exported 60% of our cases last year, this year will be closer to 70%.
ENC: What have been the main challenges of exporting?
Nik: Different markets have their own issues. For example the documentation required for China takes so much time to process, it basically takes one person two full days to do the paperwork to process an order. In Canada all the liquor shops are state-owned and the rules vary from state to state. In some parts of the US, such as New York, it can be really expensive to service distributors by the time you’ve paid for flights and accommodation, that sort of thing.
And then there are cultural differences. You typically find for example that in China there will be negotiation on price after the contract has been signed.
ENC: What support/advice/resources have you found useful in the exporting process?
Nik: There is very little literature available for our specific case – exporting premiums wine. The best advice comes from talking to other people in the industry, people who have been doing it for a while.
ENC: What advice would you give to others looking to export?
Nik: One of the most commons misconceptions is that people think that distributors do your marketing for you. They don’t. So that’s something you need to think about.
Also, I would advise people to talk to others that are exporting. Others in your industry in New Zealand are not your competitors, we’re so small in world scale that we have to help each other. I really wish we had more mentoring and sharing of ideas in that way.
Even talking to other primary producers is relevant – the experience of exporting if you’re selling to Waitrose supermarkets is similar, you still have to find out the how and have a plan.