Export winners: How 5 Aussie food & beverage brands are supercharging global growth

Jun 29, 2023 by Mark Dingley

Packaging & labelling errors are key reasons your product will be rejected when exporting.


Thinking of exporting? Exporting is a great way to grow your business – look at these five Australian food & beverage companies.

Whether to China, the United States, Japan or Europe, exporting your products can open the door to bigger markets and business growth.

Australian exporters are, on average, more profitable and productive than businesses that simply choose to supply local products or services.

But it takes work to get right. In this article, we look at five Aussie brands and how they are winning with exports.

1. Bega

When it comes to anything dairy, Bega is a household name in Australia, but you might not realise it also exports to over 40 countries worldwide.

Until 2011, Bega was a relatively small player in the export market. Instead, it focused on making and packaging its famous cheddar cheeses primarily for the domestic market.

However, its merger with Tatura Milk Industries in 2011 led to Bega investing heavily in new branding and infrastructure to open the door to opportunities in Asia, the Middle East and Oceania.

Today, Bega's exports include milk-based beverages, white milk, yoghurt, juices and drinks, water ice, dairy foods, plant-based products, nutritionals, spreads and condiments, including the famous Aussie export, Vegemite.

That's the cornerstone of Bega's success – it doesn't put all its eggs in one basket. The company has a diverse portfolio and built a global supply chain to support its growth ambitions.

Pre-pandemic in 2019, Bega's export sales hit $442 million, with its export market comprising 31% of total revenue.

As Max Roberts, a former Bega Cheese long-standing director, explained in 2017, “Exporting became absolutely paramount because the domestic market is mature. There is population growth but not a great deal of growth in cheese consumption, so we had to compete in the domestic market but also grow our business by relying on exports."

2. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

Family-owned Queensland business Bundaberg Brewed Drinks began brewing ginger beer in the 1960s.

While the drink has long been a local favourite and an iconic representation of the Bundaberg Region, the company now exports to more than 60 countries and was named 2022 Queensland Exporter of the Year for its significant export success.

Its global success started in the 1980s when the company secured distribution in New Zealand supermarkets. By 1987, the famous drinks were being sent around the globe.

Less than two decades later, it exported to over 30 countries, including the United Kingdom, USA, Singapore and beyond. The company has sold products in the US giant Costco and even in international airspace aboard Qantas flights.

South Korea is the fastest-growing market for the Aussie beverage business, leapfrogging the Chinese market due to Covid restrictions.

CEO John Mclean advises his top export strategy is to “Go slow – it is harder to fix the mistake from rushing rather than making the right decision in the first place.”

3. Chobani

US food maker Chobani was an instant success when it hit Aussie supermarket shelves with its Greek yoghurt in 2011. And it's been Australia's number-one yoghurt brand since 2017.

With the global market for Greek yoghurt expected to grow by 11.1% from 2022-32, the company, based in Dandenong, Victoria, is ahead of the trend. It already exports to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Maldives and China, and recently spread its wings to New Zealand in 2022.

But Chobani doesn't just make Greek yoghurt. To drive additional growth in its business, Chobani is leveraging its existing brand across similar product categories, including plant-based “milk” and non-dairy probiotic beverages. This will help the company move into other non-dairy-based areas, such as ice-cream and drinks, with significant demand in Asia.

Chobani draws on Australia's network of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) for its export success.

As Lyn Radford, Chobani Australia Managing Director, told Austrade, “Australia has so many great FTAs with the Asia-Pacific. The FTAs take away the cost of exporting – removing or reducing barriers, such as tariffs.”

4. Frew Foods

Australian meat processor Frew Foods prides itself on supplying quality Aussie meat to Australia and the world.

The company is not only a major supplier to Woolworth’s and Aldi, but it also exports lamb and goat to over 85 countries across all major continents, including North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Its facility in Stawell in regional Victoria, processes up to 900,000 sheep annually for domestic and export markets, including the USA and Canada.

Australian-based meat group Thomas Foods International (TFI) bought a 50% stake in the company in 2022, helping to drive growth through TFI’s well-established export markets, particularly the Middle East.

With the export market growing, Frew Foods is expanding its facility to meet demand. The multi-million-dollar project will almost double its current lamb production, with equipment upgrades and a new cold store to reduce the company's processing costs.

Thinking of exporting meat products? Learn about the Export Control Marks, aka DAFF marks, for meat and other labelling tips for exporting fresh produce.

5. Bubs Australia

From a kitchen in Sydney's Northern Beaches, Bubs Australia began when founder and former CEO Kristy Carr saw a market opportunity for a premium, organic baby food. Bubs Australia’s infant formulas, toddler milk, baby foods and snacks cater to various developmental stages from newborn to childhood.

From these humble beginnings, today, Bubs Australia feeds infants and toddlers across ten markets exporting to China, South-East Asia, the Middle East and the USA.

Establishing operations in the world’s top two infant formula markets – China and the USA – is no small feat. The key to success in the Chinese market is the company’s strong relationship with Australia's leading daigou distributor. This rapidly accelerated their ability for this Australian-made product to reach Chinese consumers.

Launching in the United States was a different story. In May 2022, Bubs Australia was among the first to apply and become one of the first international manufacturers to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to import infant formula products to help relieve national supply shortages.

Around 1.25 milliontins of Bubs infant formula – equal to 27.5 million bottles – were transported to the USA as part of the Biden Administration's “Operation Fly Formula”. A swift entry into US e-commerce marketplaces followed, with Bubs Australia securing contracts with Walmart.com, Amazon.com and Thrive Market. Since then, the products have hit physical shelves in more than 10,000 retail outlets nationwide.

It's no wonder the company won the 2022 Australian Exporter of the Year as “one of Australia's most successful and in-demand exporters of infant nutrition products”.

Ready to go global?

Packaging and labelling errors are key reasons your product will be rejected when exporting overseas. Ensure you know how to mitigate the risk and avoid rejects. Download our Ultimate Guide to Coding and Labelling.

For more advice, check out these five tips to help you see export success.