"Let the Golden Goose live." New Zealand’s Food and Beverage (F&B) companies looking for new markets in Asia often view China as the nexus of international trade, but for some, it is a Golden Goose. Motivated by visions of gleaming golden eggs by the container load, some exporters force their way inside the Golden Goose only to find that the venture ends just as it did in Aesop’s Fable.

China is a complicated place to do business. The regulations for imported F&B goods are onerous, frequently change and are inconsistently applied by customs agents at each port of entry. It can also be risky. Many customers such as distributors and Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chains will not hesitate to switch suppliers in their quest to find cheaper alternatives.

For example, one major desert manufacturer I know significantly scaled up their production to meet the volume demands of a major QSR chain only to have their orders come to an abrupt halt shortly after winning the business. The chain had found another supplier – a local manufacturer who had unabashedly copied the existing product and sold it to the QSR for a better price.

Of course, every export market in Asia has its challenges, and expansion into China is definitely a goal worthy of working towards. The question is, how do you keep the Golden Goose alive?

Consider Taiwan:

  1. It ranks 11th out of 189 economies on the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business scale (China ranks 84th, New Zealand ranks 2nd).
  2. It’s a country of 23 million people, which is large enough to have scale, but not so large as to be overwhelming.
  3. The business culture is professional and loyalty is deeply ingrained.
  4. Customs regulations are transparent and compliance is easily met (for most F&B categories).
  5. Taiwan is regarded as a leader in border management and adopts advanced transparent practices for clearing goods across the border effectively and efficiently.
  6. Crucially, it’s one of China’s closest neighbours and Taiwan’s extensive commercial interests in Mainland China are frequently underestimated. Many of the major distribution companies we work with in Taiwan actually have larger operations in Mainland China than they do in Taiwan.

By partnering with a reputable distributor in Taiwan that has operations in China, exporters can gain access to this all important market while enjoying the many benefits of doing business with ease in Taiwan.