Stuttgart Flemish Beer Tasting

The German Approach

When the Flanders Investment and Trade Agency advertised the Flemish beer tasting event in Stuttgart a few months ago, I jumped at the opportunity. Breaking into a new market takes time, and every country is different, especially Germany. The timing was difficult, to travel 550km each way a week after returning from Kosherfest in America was tough but manageable.

Flanders Investment and Trade

This agency is efficient and we had to submit our list of invitees and descriptions of our products in German about two months before the event. The agenda included a dinner the night before the event with the Belgium ambassador to Germany. Fortunately, they were able to arrange a kosher meal for me from the local Jewish restaurant.

Ginger Beer

The tasting was held in the Stuttgart Cultural center, and I was proud to be among the 16 brewers there, especially since Ginger Tipple was placed above Duvel  and Westmalle in the program!

The time before the event opened was a wonderful opportunity to meet with some the top brewers and salesmen in the Belgian brewing world.

When they came to taste this newcomer to such an event, I really appreciated their feedback.

The Ambassador

The ambassador really surprised me, first of all he liked both the regular Ginger Tipple and the Ginger Kriek which immediately makes him a good man. He looked at the label and said, “OKp, it’s pareve?” When I told him it was for Passover the replied that he will buy some bottles to take to his friends in Cleveland with whom he will be celebrating the Seder.

Ginger Beer

The Presentation & Tasting

The Agency invited a German beer specialist, Irina Zimmerman, to present all of the breweries. At least she could pronounce my family name properly.

I did not make any secret of being Jewish etc.  and Mrs Zimmerman was very interested in the kosher aspect. However, there were some guests who did not come to the Ginger Tipple stand, even though the trade attaché and Mrs Zimmerman strongly recommended that they do.

Perhaps they don’t like ginger 🙂

As I had to drive back that evening, I was unable to really enjoy the beers on presentation, although I was given a few complimentary bottles.

Ginger Beer

In Conclusion

Unfortunately, only about one third of the people came and there were not many importers and distributors who are the gateway to the German market. However, most of the guests enjoyed tasting Ginger Tipple and Ginger Kriek, and the restaurants, bars and shops were all interested in ordering. One very hip bar wants Ginger Tipple at its annual craft beer festival in March.

 

 

Kosherfest, New Jersey 2017

Kosherfest

On Monday I arrived at the Meadowlands Exposition Center for Kosherfest 2017. This is the largest trade show for kosher food. Two years ago I went to Anuga in Koln, Germany, which was at least 10 times larger, but it is still impressive to see so many kosher manufacturers, Kosher supervisors and other Jewish businesses in one exposition.

There is a growing number of kosher producers of healthier foods.

Booth

My booth was a regular sized  booth in the corner near the exit. The show logistics had delivered all of my boxes to the booth instead of the refrigerator. But at least they were there.Ginger BeerSo I had to haul 200kg of Ginger Tipple 200m to the fridge.

My customer, Belgium in a Box sent over the boxes and each bottle had been individually wrapped to prevent breakage, and they had to be unwrapped.

American Stores

After sorting out the bottles, I went shopping for buckets to keep the bottles on ice and a few other necessities. I walked five minutes to Sam’s Club, it took longer just to walk around the store, it was massive. And the Walmart next door was just as large. Absolutely amazing.

New Products

Everything costs at these shows, and I had paid for listing Ginger Tipple as a new product. There was also a competition for best new products in different categories, mine was alcoholic beverages. I did not win the prize, it want to an organic winery. But I had to bring my samples to the display case at a certain time. Some of the visitors to the booth came especially because they had seen Ginger Tipple in the new products display case, so it works.

The Show Begins

Ginger BeerEven before the show officially opened, journalists were running around, and we attracted a lot of attention. It was impossible to predict who would love Ginger Tipple, who would hate it and who would ask for a refill, and then another refill.  And some returned an hour later for even more!

The first day did not stop. The second day was quieter, but still interesting.

Objectives

As the world’s only Passover beer, one of my objectives was to secure orders for Passover 2018. Quite a few hotel organisers placed orders or will be once they are more progressed with their plans.

The other objective was to find distributors, and this was a problem. In a few states, New York in particular, liquor stores and distributors cannot sell beer. While there were a few New York based wine importers but they could not help me. Other wine importers like Royal Wine – Kedem, want to work with me but do not have a beer license. Apparently, these restrictions date from after the Prohibition when each state structured its alcohol distribution differently and to fit vested interests.

Conclusions

I will be returning home with some orders and other interesting projects. I know that Ginger Tipple is a good drink, but it was reassuring to hear the responses of people who came to the booth because they had heard that this was a product they had to taste.

The jury was split on which label they preferred, the old or the new.

As Arnold Schwazeneger would say “I’ll be back!”

 

 

 

Kosherfest – Here We Come

Kosherfest 2017

To be precise, here I come.

I have exhibited at trade show before for companies where I have worked, but this is the first time it is my own business.

Kosherfest is considered the largest trade show for kosher food in the world and it attracts over 5,000 visitors, all of whom have to be in the business. It is not open to the general public. The tickets cost $100, and trust me the booths are much more expensive.

Importing Beer in the US

Immediately after booking the booth I investigated how to ship samples of Ginger Tipple to the US. I am entitled to import into the US bottles of beer which will not be for sale and only for use at a show. It is called a COLA exemption. Sounds simple, until your bottles arrive the the port of entry.

None of the shipping companies can estimate the cost of customs clearance, and a missing logo, symbol or warning will mean that you goods are stuck there. Then you have to pay for storage at customs and even more to the customs agent who now has to do more work to sort out the labels.

I would also have to find an importer to be the FDA importer of record, not too difficult, there is a company in France which will arrange it for $650. But once they are on record, if you want to change to a different importer they have to be willing to relinquish the honour. I was warned that there have a quite a few cases where they charge you a lot of money for the privilege.

Belgium in a Box

Kurt from Belgium in a Box specialises in shipping beer to the US and he advised shipping the beer by parcel post. It was quite expensive, but he has a very high delivery success rate. There are the big advantages of neither customs nor the FDA getting involved.

The bottles have arrived at the logistics company for the show – they charge an arm and a leg for receiving the boxes, holding them for 2 weeks and bringing them to the show.  And if your boxes arrive after a certain date, they will charge even more. But, for that price you are guaranteed that your boxes will be in the right place on the right date.

To date, all of that has been arranged and now I have to finalise the marketing materials and an assistant for the show.