Negotiating an export deal in the food and beverage sector in Asia is a lot like playing soccer, except there are a lot of defenders and very few strikers. In the game of exporting, defenders come in all shapes and sizes from trade barriers to poor communicators. It takes dedication and skill to keep the ball moving down the field to score a goal.

Weeks can be lost as the various players wait their turn. Samples can be dispatched late or held up in customs. Distributors can be overrun and neglect new business opportunities. Demand for particular products can wax and wane. Volume and pricing can be difficult to understand especially if it's a new category for the distributor.

You might make it past all these defenders only to be tackled by some regulatory complication you didn’t see coming. Meanwhile the ball sits stationary, attention is diverted and the goal stretches further afield.

To become successful in F&B exporting in Asia you must have determination, good negotiation skills, a powerful sales pitch and a good understanding of the various players on the field. While a striker only gets a few chances in each game, their job is to turn them into goals by using all the tools in their arsenal.