We customised our offering to suit overseas markets
Ford Farm, winner of the Export Award
in the highly prestigious Dorset Business Awards 2009, is a Dorset
based cheese producer, specialising in the production of hand-made,
supreme quality cheeses.
What makes our cheese so special is
not just how it is made, but where it is made, who makes it and
how. Our manufacturing base is in the heart of the Ashley Chase
Estate in Dorset on the rolling Dorset downs and with views towards
the Jurassic Coast - now a world heritage site.
All Ford Farm Cheese is made from milk
from our own Dorset herds supplemented by a few selected neighbours
and all are made to traditional recipes and methods which date back
generations. The cheese is made by hand, not by machine, and
the hands that make it belong to people who have learned cheese
making as a craft, many from their parents.
Ford Farm brands now had excellent distribution in the UK though
the main customer base has always been the major multiples.
We wished to increase the size of our business, without allowing
any of our UK customers to account for more than 20% of our total
business. It was for this reason that we decided to turn our
sights to overseas markets.
Our first target was the USA. The Americans have a very
romantic notion of farming, and, as we are a farm and our milk
comes from local herds, including those on the Ashley Chase Estate,
we were convinced that the Americans would buy into our
We scrutinised our extensive product
portfolio and picked those products that would have appeal to the
US and later used our research to develop products especially for
that market. We made adaptations to the packaging tailored to the
market, flagging up clearly that our cows produce milk without the
use of hormones and none of our ingredients contain Genetically
Modified Organisms (GMO's).
Although treating livestock with
hormones is not allowed in the EU we need to make our US customers
aware of this as it is commonplace there and many European cheeses
are manufactured using GMO's. We also made our US customers
aware that our cheeses are ethically produced with all livestock
Since those humble beginnings, Ford Farm now exports one third
of its production per annum. Our principal export markets are
the US and Canada which account for 25% of our total sales and all
exports account for 30% of total sales.
To be able to maintain and build our overseas sales we
continually have to evolve our offering.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket!
Our reason for entering the export market was to increase the
size of our business without losing the security of a diversified
customer base. At Ford Farm our business mantra is to ensure
that no one single customer accounts for more than 20% of total
turnover. Looking abroad was the best business solution as we
were able to retain this security as well as trade with customers
ordering meaningful volumes
Offer training to overseas customers! We employ a rigorous
training programme to help our customers differentiate our cheese
from all the others they are selling. Frequent training keeps
our brands front of mind so sales staff are more likely to suggest
them to customers. Our US colleagues regularly visit us here
in Dorset to be brought up to date with recent developments and so
the values of the company can be continually reinforced.
Smarta Business Builder
To help you on your business journey, we've created Smarta Business Builder, the complete online
tools package for growing your business. Website
Documents and Email - all in one place
- from just £20 per month with no contract! Try it out today.