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Trade fairs have opened doors for Balsnack to dozens of export markets

Trade fairs have opened doors for Balsnack to dozens of export markets, said Reigo Rusing, Balsnack´s board member. Over the past three years, Balsnack has exported to more than 60 countries. Photo: Rene Lutterus

Entrepreneurs with a well-thought-out strategy bring home new export opportunities from trade fairs, said Reigo Rusing, Balsnack’s board member, at the Industry 5.0 conference. Balsnack has an established plan for collecting contacts and finding sales opportunities – it has opened the doors to dozens of foreign markets.

Balsnack is active in more than 40 markets, the largest of which are Asia, Scandinavia, Great Britain and the Middle East. Balsnack does not have new specific target markets where it would like to expand. “We go to the fair and pick up as many contacts as possible. Those interested and placing an order will receive a shipment,” explained Rusing the strategy. Thus, over the past three years, Balsnack has, according to him, exported at least one unit of its potato wafers to more than 60 countries.

“The market and the geopolitical situation can change very quickly. Last year, when we were in prime position in Japan’s 7-Eleven, which has 33,000 stores, imports in Japan stopped after the so-called fall of the yen. We had to find new customers,” shared Rusing, adding that thanks to state subsidies and various organisations, including Enterprise Estonia, they attended many trade fairs and quickly found new contacts with whom to continue.

Do not sit in the booth

According to Rusing, fairs were once selected as the primary way to boost Balsnack exports. “Fairs have a great atmosphere. If at the office, you feel invisible and no one wants to talk to you, but when you go to a trade fair, you become the king of the sales savanna,” emphasised Rusing during the stage presentation at the event.

“Go to the trade show and do some work in the booth; don’t just sit there to send an e-mail.” Doing so has a tremendous competitive advantage. In Balsnack, for example, they have specific roles at trade fairs – one is the director, and three or four people are looking for customers and collecting contacts. To stand out better, the entire team is wearing bright red tracksuits. They have also developed an app for their use, with ready-made templates for quick communication with new potential customers after the meeting.

Half-time IT company

According to Rusing, new solutions, digitisation, and automation of company processes are endless and everyday activities today. “You always aim for the low-hanging apples first, but it feels like there are so many new ones coming that we may never reach the top apples,” he mentioned. Balsnack is a small food company with 70 employees, but half the time, it feels more like an IT company, he said.

Automation changes are constantly being made, ranging from minor code optimisations that enhance daily operations to organisational adjustments that transition specific tasks from paper-based to digital or enhance their traceability. “Many things in the food industry are not about improving efficiency but also about quality or confidence,” he explained.

He mentioned that if AI could prioritise emails in the mailbox and identify which ones need attention, it would be a significant advancement for automation in the industry. This is because resources are often limited in the office environment.

These actions do not reduce the need for talent in personnel policy. “We have one mission with the workforce,” said Rusing. We want to grow, but in such a way that the number of people remains the same. Maybe find those automation options where you can produce more, but the number of people does not increase.”


Balsnack International Holding
Employees: approx. 70
Sector: Food industry
Revenue (in 2022): 8,328,206 euros
Profit (in 2022): 74,988 euros
Export (in 2022): 54.02% of the sales revenue came from Balsnack´s production in Estonia, 21.78% from exports to EU countries, and 24.20% from exports outside the EU.

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