Ladies and Gentlemen, the future is now!
Dozens of dairy manufacturers are profitably moving significant volumes of numerous U.S.-produced dairy products to customers worldwide today. Many have been doing so for ten years. Some for twenty years.
We can remove the future tense from our dairy vocabulary, unless, of course, we are discussing the huge growth potential for the export business. If you haven't done so, please read the articles in this issue about exporting.
The feature story (p.44) in particular, is filled with testimonials from successful exporters.
Yes, exporting is difficult. It takes a lot of time and energy. Exporting is filled with risks. But I challenge you to identify a huge, profitable domestic marketplace opportunity that isn't surrounded by sand traps that would make Tiger Woods' stomach churn.
Fortunately, those wishing to participate in the international market have a staunch and skilled ally that is ready, willing and able to help. It's the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Launched by Dairy Management Inc. in 1995, USDEC is funded by milk producers, the government and members. Dairy farmers pick up the lion's share of the tab.
Milk producers understand that the U.S. market is what marketers like to call "mature." Most folks in this country are pretty well fed and the population is growing very slowly. About the only way to sell more milk and dairy products in the United States and Canada is to wrestle share-of-stomach away from other food groups.
Not so in much of the world. Emerging economies in Asia, the other Americas and the Middle East are creating a new generation of relatively affluent consumers; in many cases, consumers who want to eat like "Americans in the USA."
"Jerry," you say, "you have me convinced, but how do I get started?"
I'm glad you asked. Simply, for one minute, assume you are getting ready to call on a retailer in a state where you've never done business before. What would you do to prepare yourself?
- Market research. Call USDEC. They have great research by product and by country.
- Go to a trade show. Call USDEC. They have booths at retail, foodservice and ingredient shows in several different countries every year. They'll share the space, get you introduced to buyers, show you how to convert pesos to dollars and dollars to pesos.
- "Jerry, I just sold two containers of yogurt. What do I do?" Call USDEC. The staff knows all the rules and regs, how to get the paper work in order, how to label your yogurt in Spanish, how to... They'll even help you find a distributor.
- The check is NOT in the mail. Call USDEC. Actually, you should have called them before you shipped the yogurt, because USDEC now offers ‘Receivables Insurance'.