Exporting Ethnic Foods to the US

The US is a developed and mature foods market, with many different sub-categories. One of the most important considerations in your decision to export foods to the US is the type of market your product should participate in.

  • Find your market category by researching consumer demand. One niche market is pre-packaged ethnic foods. According to statista.com, ethnic foods sales totaled almost $11 billion in 2013 and are increasing in the light of the global tastes of millennial American customers.
  • You should be able to price your product correctly, keeping in mind all margins and mark-ups charged by distributors and retailers, including other costs of getting the goods to market.
  • Identify the distribution pathway that would fit your production competencies. Large retailers (such as supermarket chains, big box chains, convenient stores, drug store chains and independent specialty food stores) tend to buy through their appointed distributor. Smaller retailers may buy from wholesalers.
  • Engaging the right distributor is crucial as the distributor will work with you to successfully bring your product to market in a timely manner. A good distributor will
    • probably also be the importer for your products. An importer will engage the customs broker who will determine the HTS Code for your product and see if the product is FDA regulated. If your product is FDA regulated, then the importer/distributor can file Prior Notice with the FDA and obtain any other necessary permits related to your product.
    • Help you register your facility with the FDA. You must comply with Current Good Manufacturing Practices, analyse the nutrient content of your product, ensure that there is correct packaging and labeling and obtain the FDA product code for your product;
    • Comply with vendor requirements and include you in product liability insurance for the particular retailer.
    • Market and promote your product to win consumer demand.
  • More and more, the larger retailers require correct packaging, labeling & software compatibility including traceability across the supply chain. This would necessitate you obtaining a bar code from GS1.
  • Be prepared for hefty investments of funds, time and effort to bring your product to the shelves of the retailer. However, with the right partner(s) you will be able to reap the fruits of your labours more efficiently than someone who has not strategized their entry into the US market.


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