In follow up to our March 8 WEGGinar™ on “Regulations, Conventions, and Battles of the Spirit: The International Trade of Craft Spirits” with Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart (pictured), President and co-founder of Chicago, Illinois-based KOVAL Distillery, we circled back with Sonat to address five remaining questions that attendees had. Here are her answers.
1. Are there certain countries where you have chosen not to export your spirits and why?
Yes. South America … but only for the time being. There is too much cross trade there and a need for special closures which we do not want to have to deal with now.
2. Do you need to translate labels to bilingual in certain markets?
Yes, Canada is a good example of that.
3. How do you vet appropriate trade shows for a product line, especially with the intent to locate good distributors?
One needs to see where the most buyers are going. Trade shows that focus on consumers are not usually the best for expanding distribution business. ProWein is probably the best liquor trade show in the world, so that is a good place to start. For the US, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Annual Convention is good; WSWA: http://www.wswa.org/.
4. With all of your travel for various purposes, what do you do about obtaining visas? Do you obtain business visas or work permits?
It really depends on the situation. Just to attend a trade show in another country it is not really necessary. I declare samples for business and state that I am traveling for business but even so, I have not had any issues and on my last trip to Canada, they did not even charge me duty on my samples and just waved me through.
5. Thank you for the great presentation. I hope to learn more about export licenses. Meanwhile, where can I start? Is it similar to beer exporting?
Exporting liquor is different than beer. It really depends on the country as each one has different regulations. Having a distributor that is interested in working with one is the best first step. They can help guide one toward what is needed and one can also ask via trade missions.
Thank you Sonat for sharing your expertise with us. And we are thrilled to learn that you and Robert Birnecker were recently honored with the SBA 2017 Illinois Small Business Persons of the Year award. On behalf of all your WEGG fans, congrats! We are very proud of you and Robert.
Note: Don’t miss our next WEGG webinar 4/5/17 on “Even a Small Business Can Be Global,” and presented by Natalie Kaddas, CEO, Kaddas Enterprises Inc. Register here:
Event is no charge but you must register in advance to attend.