By the end of today, Kevin Baldwin hopes to have made a lasting impression on some Brazilian fish buyers.
Baldwin is the North American sales manager for the Barry Group. The Corner Brook-based fish company is one of 12 businesses and organizations from Atlantic Canada attending the Americas Food and Beverage Show that wraps up in Miami, Fla., today.
The only delegate representing Newfoundland and Labrador, the Barry Group has its focus set on expanding into the South American marketplace. Between Monday and today, Baldwin was set to met with at least six potential buyers from Brazil.
Opportunity to explore
"I don't think there are many Canadian companies, especially Newfoundland companies, that are currently dealing in South America," Baldwin said in a phone interview from Miami Monday. "I know we aren't, so that's certainly an opportunity to be explored."
Baldwin will try to win the South American delegates over with crab, lobster, coldwater shrimp and pelagic species such as mackerel, herring and caplin.
"We're always looking into new markets, especially in places where we're not doing anything, to explore and see if it is somewhere we can actually take and put some of our product in with some measure of success," he said.
The business mission, organized by the Atlantic Food and Beverage Processors Association Inc., with funding assistance from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), provided a forum for delegates to connect with buyers from 28 countries. This year's show in Miami hosted more than 7,000 international buyers, including 1,700 who represent the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
The participation of the Atlantic Canadian delegation is supported by an investment of $117,445 from ACOA's Business Development Program.
Baldwin said there are advantages of being part of the Atlantic Canadian trade mission at the largest food and beverage trade show in North America, as opposed to going it alone in trying to tap into new markets.
"You've basically got people here on the ground who have worked to set up meetings, contact delegates from places where we've had no dealings and entice them to come here," said Baldwin. "That legwork is all done for you. Doing that on your own, not only getting your foot in the door, but actually getting someone to meet with you, is the most difficult part of doing the business."
Developing a one-on-one rapport doesn't always work right off the bat, but Baldwin said it can plant the seed for future business deals.
"You might approach a company once and get nothing, but if you are constantly going back and always exploring the opportunities, that's when you may find something that clicks," he said.