How Scottish food and drink firms can discover the key to global success
Leading B2B online marketplace Alibaba.com will highlight the digital export opportunity for Scottish businesses at Edinburgh's Food and Drink Conference today
ALIBABA.COM, the leading B2B online marketplace, will be at the Scotland Food and Drink Conference at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh today to explain how Scottish businesses can maximise the global export opportunity.
Speaking alongside leading brands and retailers, Jijay Shen, General Manager of Alibaba.com in Europe, and Roland Palmer, General Manager of Alibaba Group in the UK, Benelux and Nordics, will outline how Scottish businesses can easily and cost-effectively match with new wholesale buyers around the world through B2B e-commerce.
According to the latest figures released by HMRC earlier this month, exports of Scottish food and drink products reached a record export value of £8bn in 2022 – an increase of 30.6% compared to the previous year.
Shen and Palmer believe there are significant international opportunities for Scottish food and drink brands particularly in today’s era of digital transformation, accelerated by the recent pandemic years.
Over the past few years, many small and medium businesses realised that to continue growing, they needed to embrace digital technology and shift communications and operations online.
Roland Palmer, General Manager of Alibaba Group in the UK
Unsurprisingly, nowadays 72% of businesspeople are more likely to identify and evaluate new suppliers without a physical connection.
This feeds into buyer behaviour as well – up to 80% of B2B decision-makers have said they prefer remote interactions or digital self service because it is easier, more accessible, with low or no travel cost and better security.
Clearly, the pandemic has shown that the market has changed, and it’s important that businesses seek out ways to embrace digital technologies to accelerate growth. Global B2B e-commerce is a viable growth prospect for companies of all sizes.
As a wholesale online marketplace, Alibaba.com offers a cost-effective solution for small and medium businesses to tap into this opportunity, leveraging the platform’s extensive tools and reach.
As well as selling to the world through Alibaba.com, business buyers in Scotland and beyond can connect with more than 200,000 suppliers from around the world and access a virtually unlimited catalogue of products, making global sourcing quick, easy and cost-effective.
Jijay Shen, General Manager of Alibaba.com in Europe
It’s an opportunity full of potential - B2B e-commerce is a 23.9 trillion-dollar market, around six times larger than B2C, its better-known counterpart.
On Alibaba.com, the food & drink category is one of the top-performing sectors, and demand from buyers is 15x larger than supply, showing a clear gap in the market for this sector to trade overseas.
Roland Palmer, General Manager of Alibaba Group in the UK, Benelux and Nordics, said: “The quality and heritage of Scottish food and drink products is world-renowned, and by using a marketplace like Alibaba.com, Scottish businesses of all sizes can access new customers and new markets. We’re focused on helping businesses – especially SMEs - on their export journey.”
Jijay Shen, General Manager of Alibaba.com Europe added: “We’ve seen years of digital transformation in Europe at Alibaba.com.
“We have a long history of working with the food and drink industry, but we believe the opportunity we have together in front of us right now is unprecedented.”
Coatbridge-based Natural Fruit and Beverage Company (NFBC), a leading contract manufacturing producer of high-quality food products in resealable pouches, is set to launch their store on Alibaba.com. NFBC produces products in four key market areas: Infant, Sports, Senior and Clinical Nutrition.
The business already supplies a wide range of FMCG businesses across the UK and Europe and their products are distributed worldwide.
Through Alibaba.com, NFBC aims to maximise their reach across multiple international markets as they continue their journey for sustainable growth.
Beyond the Scotland region, Alibaba.com sees strong international demand for UK products across the food and drink category.
The platform has recently signed coffee business, Coffeelink. While the business has 15 stores in the UK, it can access multiple international markets across the globe through Alibaba.com, opening up the potential for additional growth.
As more areas of business become digitalised, B2B buyers will continue to focus on online procurement channels to access a wide range of products across industries and geographies – and the food and drink sector in Scotland is one that is high in demand.