What could be more international these days than food and drink?  Yet the hospitality sector is, as we know, one of those areas of the economy that is really suffering from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis just now.  We even have some rather dim folk believing that the Corona brand of lager is a source of the virus.  It’s alarming enough when people get confused by English words, so what chance do our food and drink manufacturers, importers and exporters have with foreign words and phrases?

Global Connects has an unrivalled depth and breadth of experience when it comes to translating information for the food and drink sector.  Whether it’s langoustines in Latvian, whisky in Wolof (spoken in Gambia and Senegal) or salmon in Slovak, or indeed hundreds of other languages, we have the necessary skills to promote your business across the world. Here are a few of the key things you should consider.

Do your research. Understand the language and culture of the foreign market you are trying to tap into and make sure that you understand that there are even local differences within countries.

Do use a recognised translation company with professional, experienced translators who can steer you through the potential minefield of cultural and linguistic howlers. You don’t want to join the likes of KFC, for whom someone translated “Finger-lickin’ good” into” We’ll eat your fingers off” in Chinese. Then there was “The Jolly Green Giant” becoming an “Intimidating Green Monster” in Arabic, while “Schweppes Tonic Water” was described as “Schweppes Toilet Water” in Italy. As for the embarrassing faux pas when a major US firm thought that ‘embarazada’ in Spanish meant ‘embarrassed’ in English, well, hmm, let’s just tell you that it actually means ‘pregnant.’ And it’s not just words: if you are using pictures alongside Arabic, remember that Arabic reads from right to left… The cost of not using a professional agency like Global Connects is not just embarrassment, it’s also your reputation in specific overseas markets.

Do understand what needs to be translated. There are various elements of food and beverage packaging that need to be translated for legal reasons. Other elements need translation to help you gain sales and customers.  All packaging, ingredients etc.  need to be translated before you launch your product to the world.  Do your research!

Don’t think one size fits all. Be prepared to adapt your content for global markets. Copy that works in the UK may simply not translate easily to another country. Be prepared to make changes to packaging and branding, whether it’s a colour that has negative connotations in one country or a name or logo that could inadvertently cause offence.  Don’t be embarrassed; let Global Connects help you navigate local requirements for local markets.

Don’t think that words in other languages are the same length as in English. When designing a logo or packaging, consider that some languages have longer words, idiomatic phrases or sentences. It’s not unknown for packaging to be redesigned if not enough consideration has been given to this in advance, costing both time and money – and holding up many a new product launch.

Don’t forget the personal touch. If you have foreign clients visiting your premises, offer them an interpreter to ensure everything is clearly understood. They will really appreciate the gesture and it will help them gain a fuller understanding of your brand and more likely to want to do business with you.

Reaching audiences whose first language is not English and getting your message across in their own language, in such a way that it can have no other meaning than the one you intend it to have, is a real skill that takes years of experience.   Get in touch with the Global Connects team today to learn how we can help you do just that.

Fiona Woodford, Global Connects