Lauden Chocolate is a premium chocolate company based in Leeds, UK, set up by husband and wife team Stephen and Sun Trigg.
The company started to export in 2010 and now sells products to high-end retailers in markets including Germany, Russia, Japan, China and the US through logistics provider FedEx.
Picking a partner
Co-owner Stephen Trigg offered advice for smaller confectioners entering export markets.
“Choosing your distributor is extremely important. You have to make sure they have clients on their books,” he told ConfectioneryNews.
He recommended independently obtaining references from distributors’ clients before entering a deal.
“We had some experience with distributors that couldn’t deliver from Leeds to Manchester overnight,” he said.
It’s important the distributor also understands the product and the target audience, he added.
Lauden previously worked with a distributor that placed one of the company’s premium products next to Kit Kat in a Saudi Arabian supermarket and the product flopped as a result.
Lauden Chocolate manufactures from its 3,000 sq ft facility in Leeds. FedEx, the firm’s logistics provider, collects products for Lauden’s factory to transport to international retailers. The firm can export products within 48 hours from Leeds to Japan.
Trigg advised smaller companies to carefully scrutinize local regulations in the markets they hope to reach.
“They have got to consider the import laws into the country. Really do your homework with your supplier.”
He recommended sending samples to retailers in export markets first to ensure they are happy to proceed.
“Take it slowly and test it first. We’ve seen it happen with friends of ours who sent a large palette to a different country and it was refused entry because they didn’t declare E172 for Japan,” said Trigg.
He continued: “These things change all the time too and that’s something to keep on top of.”
Trigg said it was fundamental to work with somebody able to speak the local language to avoid confusion with ingredients declarations and technical specifications for an order.
He said that his company once had products stuck in customs in Asia for a month due to issues with paperwork. “We sent everything we thought they needed, but a translation led to a misunderstanding.”
Trigg continued: “The products that we do have a good shelf life. The problem we have is the temperature.”
He said his company had previously sent an order to California and the chocolates had melted on arrival.
Now products passing hotter regions are packed in sealed polystyrene boxes with ice packs and larger orders will have temperature trackers.
Lauden Chocolates is about to move into everyday confections by launching premium chocolate bars and are looking for more distributors in Singapore, America, China and Europe.
The company has seven staff. “As a small producer it’s hard – it’s 12-14 hour days. You’ve just got to put the extra work in,” said the Lauden Chocolate co-owner.