Next week, Port Manatee will facilitate the beginning of Mangata World Inc.’s first venture into the Southwest Florida market.
Mangata World Inc. is a gourmet foods trading company with offices in Fort Lauderdale. Mangata executives hope the shipment of its first pallet of Spanish extra virgin olive oil through Port Manatee will open a gateway to Southwest Florida’s markets.
“Port Manatee will be used as a hub to reach the west coast of Florida (Sarasota, Bradenton, Manatee, Tampa, Naples, Fort Myers),” Mangata CEO Marcos von Haeften said in an email.
The first shipment includes 25-ounce and 8-ounce bottles and 3-quart tins. Next, with the help of the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee, Mangata hopes to connect with distributors and clients that have a special interest in gourmet products by offering them samples from the first shipment.
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Ivan Mutis and Marina Besadalombana, both consultants at the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee, said there’s a series of steps they follow to provide support and guidance to companies seeking to enter the Florida and U.S. markets. Initial market research and market development are essential steps before foreign companies can successfully establish a U.S. base, Mutis and Besadalombana said.
When people think of Florida, they think of Miami or Mickey Mouse. This is part of our job to go and look for companies and convince them this is the right place.
Marina Besadalombana, consultant at the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee
“You have to help them to go to the right target,” Besadalombana said. “Because if they choose the wrong target, they will fail. They will die of success.”
In other words, often times European companies are used to the European market and demand, which “works like a national market between 27 countries,” she said. When foreign companies enter large statewide markets, such as Florida’s or California’s, they may not be prepared for the demand that comes from those markets.
“For example, Florida has the same economic potential that Poland has,” Mutis said.
With such large-scale economies, companies may not know where to start or might aim for the wrong specific target, Besadalombana said. The International Trade Hub serves to research the proper size market for a company and increase the company’s chances for success in those markets. The hub also works with Manatee County’s Economic Development program and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.
The market research, sampling and U.S. establishment process for a foreign company typically takes about nine months to a year. Mangata’s process, which began in April, hasn’t taken quite as long because von Haeften is co-founder and CEO of Translationary, a language translation company that was the first of the International Trade Hub’s partner companies. There are now 15 companies, including Mangata, working with the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee.
Sampling Mangata’s Macellum-branded, cold-pressed, low-acidity extra virgin olive oil is part of the market development step. Besadalombana and Mutis have a confidential list of clients that they intend to provide samples.
“Normally it’s individuals and not chain restaurants,” Mutis said. “It’s some restaurants where people will pay more than $50 per person. We don’t like to use the word premium but it’s the ones in the highest part of the pyramid.”
After Mangata has an established client base, Besadalombana and Mutis hope the company will establish a Manatee County location for packaging and distributing, thereby creating jobs in the area.
15 companies established at the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee
“Mangata is the latest addition to the 15 international companies that have chosen the International Trade Hub as their U.S. headquarters,” Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said in an email. “Port Manatee is the ideal strategic location for distribution in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America, given its proximity to large consumer markets in Central and Southwest Florida.”
Companies in Central America, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic already have shown interest in the olive oil, Besadalombana said.
Mangata also hopes to enter the Southwest Florida market with its other products, Dulce de leche and Sri Lanka tea and coconut oil.
For a company to successfully enter the U.S. markets, Mutis and Besadalombana said a company must have more than just the required money, intention and philosophy needed to prosper.
“They need the support,” Mutis said. “It could be the right company but without the support, it will have a very short life.”