From Byron Bay to the UK, Extraordinary Foods is going global
By Sophia Stewart-Kasimba | Food Innovation Australia Ltd
Wednesday, 01 April, 2020
Byron Bay is renowned worldwide for its vibrant, local and sustainable food culture. With this in mind, it is not surprising that it was here, in this beautiful coastal town, that Olga Plotnikova and Alex Komarov founded Extraordinary Foods in 2013.
“We created Extraordinary Foods to fill a void we felt existed for healthy snack foods. Snack foods that simultaneously nourished the body and tasted great,” explained co-founder, Olga Plotnikova.
Handmade from locally-sourced ingredients, Extraordinary Foods’ entre product range is raw, vegan, and free from gluten, soy, processed sugars, and chemical preservatives. The range currently consists of Probiotic Kale Chips and Pimp my Salad jars — crunchy salad toppers, ranging from hemp ‘parmesan’ and coconut ‘bacon’, through to activated seeds seaweed superfood sprinkles.
Since launching to Australian consumers at World Vegan Day in 2013, these delicious savoury snacks have seen Extraordinary Foods stocked all across the country. It wasn’t long before whispers of these plant-based goodies reached overseas ears.
In 2018, Extraordinary Foods were exhibiting at Australia’s largest tradeshow for health, natural and organic products — Naturally Good — when they were approached by a third-party exporter wanting to sell their products into the UK.
Despite the domestic success of Extraordinary Foods and the similarities between the Australian and UK markets, the two markets are distinct.
“We didn’t have enough knowledge to know if taking this offer up to export to the UK would be a good business decision, or even the best way to go about it. This was where FIAL came in,” said Plotnikova.
In pure synchronicity, it was around this time that Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) was gearing up to launch its UK Grocery Accelerator Program. A 12-month pilot program, the UK Grocery Accelerator assists export-ready Australian food producers to establish themselves successfully in the United Kingdom and Europe. It equips businesses with the knowledge, capabilities, and connections needed to succeed in these markets.
As part of the program, participating businesses are given an extensive overview of the UK market. This includes store tours, as well as insights and trends from in-market experts. Armed with this enriched understanding, Olga and Alex decided that the UK was right for Extraordinary Foods — they were going to push that market expansion.
Olga and Alex were able to work closely with the experts, mentors and investment partners FIAL connected them with during the UK Grocery Accelerator to develop their export strategy of starting with health food stores before stepping on to general stores. They also followed advice to engage a logistics company recommended by FIAL. Rather than partnering with the exporter that initially approached them, this enabled them to benefit from increased margins.
“You only get one chance when entering a new market. FIAL supported us to do it right. This approach was more work, but the increased margins were worth it and we felt totally supported by FIAL the whole way,” said Plotnikova.
Today, first orders for Extraordinary Foods have been placed by buyers that they were introduced to during the program at Planet Organic, Revital, Selfridges, Wholefoods, Holland and Barrett, as well as approximately 100 smaller retailers. The company has also expanded its team to include business development, sales, and marketing employees that are based in the United Kingdom.
“The biggest piece of advice we would give is that when it comes to initiatives like the UK Grocery Accelerator — you get out what you put in. Have high expectations and FIAL is more than willing to support you in capitalising on opportunities,” concluded Plotnikova.
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