A recent trip to the United States proved valuable on all fronts for Site Manager Dr Mike North, and Sales Executive Vaughan Dew. Pre-Covid, regular round trips to the United States were business as usual for TBE. An internal promotion for Mike and a new position for Vaughan meant opportunity to reconnect abroad has lifted business to another level for them both.
“Being in my first year with TBE, actually meeting a lot of our customers was really helpful for me. We covered some ground in 10 days travelling from LA, Chicago, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas City – Missouri through to Vancouver. Flights and time zones became a blur!” says Vaughan.
Time in LA was spent visiting a restaurant chain who values TBE’s beef bone extract as a core ingredient in their dishes. Meeting and learning more about their business operations and networks was invaluable in presenting new opportunities to investigate.
“Our regular daily dealings are usually by email due to time differences, and pretty focused on the logistics of our customers’ supply requirements. With every customer visit we had there was discovery of additional opportunities that don’t emerge without that trust-building face to face contact.
“When you’re on site with customers you get a real sense of their business. There’s nothing like experiencing their business first-hand to see how our ingredients fit into their process and final products,” says Mike.
Through good timing with one of their visits they were able to see TBE’s beef bone broth processed into the finished product for a well-known American retail broth brand. Discussions led to an exchange of ideas on process and the scope of future opportunities, which proved beneficial all round.
“Understanding the various grades of product one particular customer deals with, and what’s of priority importance for their customers, enables us to provide solutions alongside their existing sources,” says Mike.
Being a seasoned sales and account manager, Vaughan appreciated the real interaction when meeting in person.
“It’s always good when you’re in front of someone – able to answer and ask questions in a continuous stream of conversation, versus the practical focus of emails and supply-specific requirements. Sitting in front of someone gives you a better perspective on where they’re coming from. We were able to delve into business challenges and better support a number of our customers,” says Vaughan.
While TBE are well versed on the popularity of bone broth in the U.S. marketplace, visiting the States it was very clear that it’s no fad and here to stay. Mike and Vaughan spent time visiting retail chain outlets and supermarkets to get a sense of the market demand on the shop floor.
“There are aisles dedicated to bone broth and stocks, with grass-fed and organic propositions popular. When you look at the number of bone broth homebrands, premium brands, and the shelving space dedicated to these products, it’s clear that product is moving. You don’t get shelving space that easily,” says Vaughan.
Food manufacturers select their ingredients based on a raft of varied requirements. For many it’s about the performance of the item, while for others it’s needed for a specific claim on the ingredient list.
“We’re able to anticipate in forecasting and problem solving, anticipating market trends and answering a manufacturers’ needs to support their success in the marketplace. For example, TBE has the ability to put fat back into the product which gives it more taste and nutrition – when you put in good fats it carries the nutritional aspects like omega 3 fatty acids,” says Mike.
The opportunity to meet Sandeep Malhotra, NZ Trade & Enterprise food and beverage business consultant, was another key engagement. With his wealth of industry experience and expertise, their relationship going forwards is key to support TBE’s expansion in the US market.
Chicago was a highlight, well known as the nation’s food innovation and manufacturing capital. Mike and Vaughan took some time out to learn about another side to the city on the Chicago Architecture River Cruise.
“It was great to take a break from business dealings and gain another perspective on the region we were visiting,” says Vaughan.