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Crafting success: from homebrews to Asian markets

In the realm of entrepreneurship, inspiration often stems from personal experiences or a desire to fill a gap in the market. For the founders of MULL° drinks, it was a dissatisfaction with the overly sweet, chemically laden ciders available commercially that sparked their journey into the world of craft cider production.

“We began making cider because we simply didn’t want to drink the overly sweet, chemical-laden concoctions readily available in stores at the time,” shares Lauri Sild, CEO and founder of MULL° drinks. “Our home experiments with real cider turned out fantastic, so we saw no reason not to try making cider in Estonia, following the traditions of England, France, or Spain. And that’s how it all started.”

The initial quest for a better cider quickly evolved into a passion for creating high-quality beverages, leading them to establish their production facility in Tallinn, Estonia. However, breaking into the market and expanding production posed significant challenges.

“Most of our production currently stays within Estonia due to the high demand for our products here,” explains Sild.

The company´s sight is on international expansion

“Expanding production poses a considerable business risk and logistical challenge. We’ve chosen a gradual approach to scaling up production to manage financial risks and ensure sustainability. Our long-term vision is to become a strong and reputable Estonian beverage producer, delighting our fans for years to come.”

While the focus remains on the domestic market, the team has its sights set on international expansion, particularly in Asia. Following a successful stint at a food exhibition in South Korea, where they secured a local distributor, they are now gearing up for Foodex in Japan (5-8th March 2024).

“Asia, particularly South Korea and Japan, present a similar economic landscape to the Baltic region. If we’re aiming business opportunities in South Korea, makes sense to target business in Japan,” says Sild.

Estonian entrepreneurs who already sell their products in Asia told us we’d be foolish not to offer our products there. It’s that simple.
Lauri Sild, CEO and founder of MULL° drinks

Their sentiments echo the collective ambition of Estonia’s vibrant food and beverage industry. As they strive for greater export success, they recognize the need for perseverance and diligence. In the pursuit of international prosperity, hard work remains their steadfast companion.

Patience and managing expectations are key in Asia

Their flagship products, chemical-free and alcohol-free beverages, hold immense potential in the Asian market, believes CEO Lauri Sild. The decision to explore opportunities in Asia was influenced by advice from fellow Estonian entrepreneurs who have succeeded in the region.

“Estonian entrepreneurs who already sell their products in Asia told us we’d be foolish not to offer our products there. It’s that simple,” he says.

With South Korea and Japan as primary target export markets, representing a combined population of over 175 million, the team is optimistic about their regional prospects. When it comes to international endeavors, support from government trade organizations like the Enterprise Estonia (EAS) has been invaluable.

“We’re extremely grateful for the support and guidance from EAS. Without their expertise, encouragement, and financial assistance, our journey, especially towards Asia, wouldn’t have been possible,” acknowledges the team.

As they prepare to exhibit at Foodex, their goals are clear – to establish concrete connections that could potentially lead to partnerships in the future. However, they also acknowledge the need for patience and realistic expectations in the Asian market.

“From Foodex in Japan, we hope to return with a list of contacts with whom we can establish meaningful partnerships. But in Asia, things rarely happen overnight. Patience and managing expectations are key,” he concludes.

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