Successful exporters: Stallion AI

We love a good success story, especially when it’s a UK business expanding its international reach. We had a chat with Tullis from Stallion AI, the UK’s largest Equine Semen Storage and Distribution Centre and got some top exporting tips.

Where did your business idea come from?
“While working on the family stud farm, we realised that when covering a mare using natural techniques, there had to be a safer way for both mare and stallion. “

Tullis therefore spent some time training on AI techniques in New Zealand before returning to the UK and started practising in AI on the family farm in 1986.

Stallion AI Services was founded in 2000 by Tullis Matson and is one of Europe’s leading equine semen collection centres having collected semen from over 1,000 stallions. It is 1 of 15 centres in the UK approved by DEFRA to freeze semen for EU export and one of only two centres licenced for worldwide export.

What makes Stallion AI’s technology different from other companies in your sector?
Stallion AI Services has just invested £1.5 million in relocating to a purpose-built premises which we took occupation of in April 2017. “As well as a new stable block, collection area and offices, the new premises includes a state-of-the-art semen processing laboratory and a purpose-built research laboratory. This enables us to carry out research and development work to stay at the forefront of the field of equine reproduction.”

Since its inception, the company has always invested in the latest cutting-edge technology and laboratory equipment. Currently we are the only equine centre in the UK to use fluorescent microscopy for semen assessment. Fluorescent microscopy is used to determine the quality of the semen sample. As a result, it is one of the most advanced equine semen processing laboratories in the world, capable of carrying out detailed semen assessment and the latest cryopreservation techniques.

“We have also refined our laboratory processes to produce our own unique semen freezing
extender which sets us apart from any other centre in the world. One of the extremely positive results of this extensive research and design program into semen freezing extenders is that we are now able to successfully freeze semen from more stallions than ever before. In particular, from those breeds considered to be critically endangered as they generally have fertility issues.”

When did you first realise there was international demand for your products?
“We always knew there was a demand but we didn’t realise the size of the potential market until around 2013. Since then our exports have been steadily increasing and in 2017 we exported 138 shipments.”

What countries do you currently export to?
“In 2017 we exported to 21 countries in total. We regularly export to many of the other European countries and also to Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the UAE. In addition we are hoping to export to China and Argentina in the near future.”

Did any of these surprise you?
“More unusual countries have included Kenya, Brazil and Israel.”

What time of the year is the busiest?
Our busiest time of year tends to be May to August as we are shipping daily to European countries as well as throughout the UK.

What support has DIT given you throughout your exporting journey?
“To date DIT has helped us by supporting our attempts to export to new markets. Specifically they have provided us the relevant contacts in government agencies in these new countries.

In addition, they have invited us to events relevant to our interests such as a China Export event and given us information on funding opportunities.”

What are your exporting tips?
“To focus on the market you want to develop and not give up until you are successful, no matter how long it takes. In our industry the challenge is ascertaining the relevant government departments we need to deal with in the countries we are hoping to export to.

Then we need to understand and comply with the relevant health certificate and import permit requirements for that particular country. Often the language barrier adds an extra layer of complexity to this process.”

To find out how you can start exporting and achieve global success just like Stallion AI, get in touch with us at info@tradewm.co.uk or on 0345 222 0159.