Brookfarm: Going Nuts in the USA

How a new way to export helped rejuvenate the macadamia producer’s US export sales.

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Brookfarm-macadamia-treesThe US was once a thriving market for award-winning Australian macadamia producers Brookfarm. Their premium mueslis, snacks and oils made from macadamia nuts grown in their Byron Bay farm were a big favourite in the States – until the global financial crisis made exporting unviable.

Market manager Tina Kelly says the company were doing it all themselves, when the slumping American dollar and a lower demand for premium products made the costs and time of logistics simply not worth the effort.

“There were people who really missed us when we stopped selling in the States. We were keeping a small amount of stock there, plus the online store, but there was no money in it. We were doing it to keep a presence in the US.”

It’s been eight years since the GFC, and the dollar has “come their way”, but Brookfarm’s small size and limited capacity made it dfficult to re-enter the US market. Although they have been doing a brisk trade in Australian independent supermarkets since 1991, they simply didn’t have the cash. The time and risk involved was also problematic for the small team, says sales executive Jackie Barnes.

We don’t have the funds to completely go all out in the US. There’s a lot of planning involved.”

Small shipments, big steps

Brookfarm-oil-muesliExportX was introduced to the pair by Brookfarm co-owner Pam Brook, and Tina saw the “perfect opportunity to get stock trickling into the US without massive outlay.”

“Working with ExportX is a fantastic opportunity for smaller businesses and manufacturers in Australia to dip their toes in the water in the bigger market.”

The ExportX system approaches exporting a little differently. Rather than having to arrange their own shipping container, and create their own distributor networks, businesses like Brookfarm can simply supply ExportX with small amounts of product each month. This is packed into a shipping container with product from other exporters, and shipped straight to Amazon’s distribution warehouses. Jackie says ExportX makes the whole process simple and seamless.

“Cost-wise ExportX’s system minimises it hugely, and time-wise, they take so much of the everyday process and hassle out of things. They lead you through the whole way, so ‘have your product ready here at this time, do this now, have that ready.’ It makes things really easy.”

Since ExportX only takes payment on sold product, Tina says Brookfarm is only risking small amounts of product – not huge cash outlays.

“There’s much less risk. We’re sharing the load. We’ve both got interests in making it work. And because we can ship in much smaller volumes, the risk of the product going out of shelf life if it didn’t sell is much lower.”

Cost-wise ExportX’s system minimises it hugely, and time-wise, they take so much of the everyday process and hassle out of things.”

224 million potential customers

ExportX’s work doesn’t stop once the product arrives in the States. ExportX was set up to leverage Amazon’s warehouse and distribution systems – and their 224 million shoppers. ExportX’s deep connections to the retail giant, which means they understand how to craft listings to get the most from Amazon algorithms and ultimately, their users.

They spearheaded a marketing push within Amazon to get Brookfarm products included in a few one-day Lightning Deals, which have had amazing results.

Tina says this support beyond export logistics is invaluable.

“ExportX is helping us build the profile. We write our usual selling points, and they help us craft things to suit a US audience. It’s early in the game – but at this point, yes we have the product out there and it’s selling.”

It’s so easy simply dealing with ExportX, rather than trying to deal directly with lots of different stockists.”

Taking Aussie macadamias to the world

Pallet-Brookfarm-BarTina and Jackie have both recommended ExportX to other exporters already, who think it’s a “great idea”. Part of that recommendation, says Tina, is how transparently the company is run, and how great they are to deal with.

“If I’ve got a question, within two minutes of emailing, they’re back with an answer. They’re proactive, and what impresses me is the thorough knowledge of the brand – it’s like they work for Brookfarm. That really helps, they’re all over it and really know their stuff.”

This isn’t the end of the road for Brookfarm and ExportX – they’re looking at different markets too – probably taking Europe “by storm”, says Jackie.

“You will see us on the beaches (no fluoro g-strings though!)”.