Bakers Journal

Group Export Agri-Food launches export diversification program

October 26, 2020
By Bakers Journal

Logo courtesy of Zenith

The Group Export Agri-Food announced the launch of ZENITH, its new personalized export diversification and advisory program. Proudly powered by the National Bank, FCC and Fonds de solidarité FTQ and made possible thanks to the financial participation of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and MAPAQ, this program is a new field approach to internationalization tailored to its member companies.

A turnkey internationalization process in four phases

Through ZENITH, several driving forces of the Quebec and Canadian agri-food industry are joining forces to support the Group Export in the creation of structuring solutions to allow the development of its members internationally, despite the pandemic which reduces the possibilities for meetings and further development abroad.

As a turnkey solution based on a precise analysis approach combined with a proven methodology, the Zenith program is divided into four phases and aims to validate the potential of a company in a given market, while supporting it in the adjustment of its business development strategy.

Phase 1 | Global Market Overview

Through high-quality information, the global market overview allows the company to refine its export plan, to demystify the market structure and to quickly assess its potential on it.

Phase 2 | Targeted Market Study

The targeted market study focuses on the direct assessment of the potential of the company’s products in a specific market and the precise identification of opportunities and threats, market access conditions, the state of competition and more.

Phase 3 | Market Development Strategy

This strategy constitutes a field validation of the product allowing the modelling of the delivered price as well as the creation of an operational implementation plan and an enriched business development strategy.

Phase 4 | Partner selection and meeting

This last step consists in the implementation of the strategy through the qualification of potential partners rigorously selected for the company, the preparation of the negotiation lines and the support during meetings with the partner.

Continued interventions for a strong sector

The approach proposed by the Group Export within the ZENITH program is intended to be a business development initiative directly from Quebec, which has increased relevance in the current context. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to diversify the markets of Quebec exporting companies. “Pandemic or not, exports must continue, and to me, there is no doubt that exporting plays an important role in the growth and financial strength of businesses. The determinant that dictates the tangent of sales at the present time seems to be the diversification of commercial vectors. Whether retail versus food service, local versus export, evidence tend to show that, when possible, increased diversification of the sales portfolio can help absorb the impacts in the event of an exceptional situation,” points out Martin Lavoie, president and CEO of Group Export. “And we are extremely pleased with the involvement of three major players in the financial sector, which clearly demonstrates the relevance of the program to create interesting benefits for our economy,” he continues.

“The progressive field approach offered by the Export Group immediately appealed to us. It ensures the continuity of initiatives abroad in times of a pandemic, while making it possible to minimize errors and reduce risks and expenses, thus ensuring a better return on investment,” underlines Christian Ostiguy, Associate Vice-President, Agri-food at National Bank.

FCC, a long-time partner of the Group Export, was also eager be a part of new project. “FCC’s mandate is, above all, to support businesses and assist them in their development at many levels and at all stages of the company’s life. It is often said at FCC that we are there, rain or shine. It was therefore natural for us to get involved in this new and innovative program,” said Louis Turcotte, Senior Director, Corporate and Commercial Financing at FCC.

This project also seemed to be a timely topic for the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. “During the Fonds’ strategic planning exercise Agri-Food sector, a structured export plan and an on-site business network were identified as important issues for exporting SMEs. The Group Export’s ZENITH program meets these actual and genuine business needs. We are delighted with our involvement in this promising agri-food project for Quebec exporters,” adds Benoit Tétrault, Manager, investment at the Fonds.

A foray on three promising markets

For the first year of the program, the Group Export’s eye will be on three promising markets: the United States, France and China. Three cohorts of companies will be created and will be supported by experienced experts from Altios, an international support and consultancy firm, whose presence in 22 countries and global network of experts and partners will strengthen the development of strong relationships in the most dynamic markets.

“The notion of presence in the field was crucial in our desire to partner with Altios for these first cohorts,” explains Martin Lavoie. “By combining the strengths of our partners with ours, we are creating an unprecedented synergy to propel Quebec agri-food exporting companies even further in their efforts. By directing companies towards cohorts in markets with targeted potential, we want to assume our leadership role in export diversification by potentially targeting less traditional markets.”

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