James Taylor, commercial director at Mackie's at Taypack
We found out how a joint venture between potato farmers and an ice cream producer lead to the export of Mackie's crisps to around 23 countries worldwide in less than a decade...
What does your company do?
Mackie’s at Taypack produces high quality, premium potato crisps from our farm in Perthshire – we sell these throughout the UK as well as in around 23 countries worldwide.
When was your company launched, who by and why?
Mackie’s Crisps was founded in 2009 as a joint venture between third generation Perthshire potato farmers, the Taylor family, and Mackie’s of Scotland Ltd, an Aberdeenshire-based family business renowned for their luxury ice cream. Combining the Mackies’ experience in the premium foods sector with the Taylors’ expertise in growing quality potatoes, the company has created a premium range of potato crisps.
How long has the company been exporting?
Our export activity was first initiated in 2010 – just one year after our business was launched.
What do you currently export, and where to?
We currently export our straight and ridge cut potato crisps and popcorn to the following countries:
USA, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Japan, Greece, Estonia, South Korea, Cyprus, The Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, The Philippines, Sweden, Indonesia and Malaysia.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Initially we utilised overseas contacts that had already been established by Mackie’s of Scotland for their ice cream to start our export journey. Our first market was secured in 2010, just one year after the launch of Mackie’s at Taypack.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
There isn’t really an easy part! However, as a globally recognised brand we often get requests through our website from potential new markets, distributors and customers which saves us doing the leg work.
And the most challenging part?
Dealing with close to 25 countries can be challenging as we still have a very small team – however, we have still managed to achieve great things and be it through packaging development or flavour and product innovation we are very reactive to each of our export customer needs and are quick to resolve any potential issues we foresee in any given market.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
Language has been a challenge in many markets; however, our distributors are usually able to provide translations for labelling and marketing materials. In addition, both our distributors and connections from SDI help us ensure our packaging meets overseas regulations.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
With the support and knowledge of Scottish Development International (SDI) we have identified different markets across the world where there is an opportunity to introduce Mackie’s Crisps. SDI have specialists in all the major continents which has allowed us to go on learning journeys to understand more about specific markets and meet with potential distributors of the crisps - a procedure we plan to harness again this year. Scotland Food & Drink continue to support us with worldwide trend reports to ensure we have insight to back up any decisions we make.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Take the time to get to know the market you are targeting and make sure you find the right partner to work with. They will be going out and representing your business and your brand so it is important that they’re a good fit for your company. They are behind the success of your brand in the market they are based so treat them as an extended member of your home office team.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years’ time?
India, South America & Africa are all countries with great opportunities which we would love to tap into in the next few years. Our long-term aim is for Mackie’s Crisps to become the No.2 premium crisps brand across the world (second only to Kettle Chips) in 2022.
Mackie's at Taypack have been shortlisted in the Small Exporter of the Year category at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2017 in association with Scottish Enterprise. Join us on 22 March to celebrate international trade across Scotland.