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Beverage Distribution/Finding importers abroad


Hello Eric,

I'm writing from Brazil, I just started a business as an international trader for the export of our typical local products, which I think have great possibilities of pleasing European consumers.
The products are: frozen fruit pulp, frozen fruit cocktail without alcohol (must add when doing the quick 30sec-preparation) and Cachaca, our local distilled drink.
My question is: while in some countries I see companies that willingly register to free online database of importers and exporters (i.e. Italy and Germany), in a few countries I don't find them so easily (i.e. the UK).
How do I find the right companies and contact information on the web?
And secondly: how should be my initial phone/e-mail approach?
Thanks in advance!
Bruno Novais

Man, I wish I had that answer.  I want to market to those people too!

One of the best approaches I've found is to use business social websites, namely LinkedIn and in particular the various Groups related to Drinks, Beverages, etc.  Best to join some of these groups, but hold back initially asking for contacts.  Instead, watch the exchange to identify people that can help you with your product and who demonstrate knowledge, skill and integrity.

Define the profile of you're ideal distributor; use this to look for traits among those with whom you'll converse.  if I were in your position, I'd be looking for:-
- capital
- experience
 .. with similar types of products
 .. developing a new product
- can sell in; controls own sales staff; has a selling system - ways of working promotions;
 .. knows how to set targets
 .. offers and can report progress on campaigns
- existing distribution network towards the accounts I'd think would take my product
- reputation; namely honoring the terms of an agreement
- knows how to import, meeting legislation, where necessary, getting certification

In selling you're working your way from: Lead to a Deal.  That means:-
- identifying the decision maker
- determining capability
- figuring out how much is "on the table"; what is there to trade; what is their "pain"
- determining the time bounds - when should you figure the deal has gone stale

From these basic rules stems a series of sub-rules that should help frame up your initial pitch.  You need to hone the pitch as reputable / capable distributors get 100s of pitches.  You want to stand out.  They're not going to want to mess around with somebody who hasn't thought through the product, it's go-to-market, it's unique selling point(s).  So you have to have all of that figured out and embedded in your initial solicitation.

You can use phone calls to identify to whom to write; but you have to write.  You'll be offering a product overview presentation - probably followed up by samples.  And you'll have to follow up quickly after the initial contact, lest you be taken for a "chancer."

I suggest find a beverage broker who knows the in's and out's if you don't know how to pull the above together.  You don't get many tries to get it right.

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Eric Hofer


Over 27 years experience, with 17 in international FMCG in back office operations and in field sales and data collection, including design, development and deployment of Handhelds, Marketing Equipment (Service, Tracking and Return on Investment), reporting and Vending management. Have participated on the launch of operations in new markets, and re-engineered the back office in several countries.


Designed and led the development and deployment internal ERP system for Pepsi used in On-Premise/Vending in 13 markets. Designed 2 handheld systems, the latest is now deployed in 4 markets internationally. Re-engineered the back office functions (settlements, despatch, invoicing, credit control, etc) for over 20 snack, confectionary and beverage operators. Developing software: Progress, VB, Access, C, Sybase, SA

Innovative-Selling Solutions; SalesSuite


State University of New York - BA Economics NYU - Courant - Graduate work - Computing

Awards and Honors
Moderator of LinkedIn CEE Group

Past/Present Clients
PepsiAmericas PepsiCola International PepsiCola Company British Steel British Telecom Britvic (Pepsi's bottler in the UK) AT&T BellSouth Mars Overseas Bottling Pepsi France Matutano (Frito-Lay Spain) Frito-Lay Pepsi Foods International Chase Manhattan Bank Kidder Peabody National Power SmithKline Beecham Mars Overseas Bottling (Pepsi Azerbaijan) A&P Bottling (Pepsi Serbia & Montenegro) Iberia Bottlers (Pepsi Georgia)

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