How to take a food brand global: an interview with Zeynep Turudi

Zeynep Turudi is an exporting superstar. 17 years ago she had the idea to bring authentic vegetarian Turkish Delight to England and so she created the confectionary brand Truede.

Her products are not only stocked in supermarkets and high-end retailers in the UK but worldwide, with an expanding vegan and gluten-free snacking range.

In recognition of her fantastic achievements in the realm of international business, she was invited by Barack Obama to represent the UK in the International Visitor Leadership Programme, in 2011.

We spoke with Zeynep about how childhood travel sparked her global aspirations and the growing demand for vegan snacking. We also discussed how to launch a product in a new country and maximise the opportunity of online sales.

Below we’ve shared some of the key lessons Zeynep shared with us but you can listen to the full interview (25 mins) here.

7 lessons for taking your food brand global

  • Be inspired by your past. Zeynep’s business idea was born from not being able to find vegan Turkish Delight in England. In Turkey, the sweet is naturally vegetarian. Her parents had spent years having to import it. Zeynep switched from a computer science background to starting her business, to bring her heritage to the UK.
  • Online sales that go far beyond your own website. Truede has found great success using QVC to get directly in front of the customer. This then boosted the brand’s online sales. It also brought Zeynep’s attention to the influence and importance of video when it comes to selling your product and telling your story.
  • Not all ingredients are allowed in all countries — even if they are all-natural. Make sure you work closely with the buyer to ensure your product doesn’t get stuck at port.
  • Previously, the export business relied on face to face meetings and networking opportunities, like trade shows and overseas buying missions. But Coronavirus has forced these interactions to go online. This is likely to make exports cheaper and more accessible in the future.
  • It’s important to adapt your product for the market that you are selling to. Did you know in Turkey, Turkish delights are packed with pistachios, unlike the rose and lemon flavoured ones in Europe and the US? Truede conducts research and adapts its ingredients depending on what each market prefers.
  • Language forms a key part of the exporting industry and a lesson Zeynep has learnt is the importance of an interpreter. By engaging a professional interpreter conversations progress quickly with a greater degree of understanding on both sides. In some markets, by not having this support crucial conversations with potential customers are likely to fail.
  • As online meetings with customers become more common, bringing in an interpreter to also join your discussions can pay dividends. This is due to the assistance it gives in having complex discussions over video conferences with people who may not speak a high degree of English. Language differences don’t mean business can’t be conducted effectively but professional help can make a huge difference.

Listen to the full interview above plus treat yourself to some delicious Truede products here (we highly recommend the roasted chickpeas!).

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