With Yorkshire food and drink exports reaching more than £1 billion in 2017, Mark Robson, head of Yorkshire and the Humber at DIT, explains what Yorkshire food and drink producers need to know to satisfy the US appetite for British produce.
In recent years, there’s been a growing demand for British produce in the US – everything from jam, beer, cheese and chocolate is being served up on American dining tables.
America is a land of opportunity for savvy local businesses looking to bolster their sales through exporting. Yorkshire food and drink exports to the US totalled £81 million in 2017, accounting for roughly 7% of Yorkshire’s global food and drink exports.
One firm looking to take a bite of the US is Sheffield ice cream producer Yee Kwan. We’ve been working with the firm to determine the best way for it to enter the market, which could involve its products being manufactured by a US producer under licence.
Local producers are also enjoying trans-Atlantic initiatives to boost the exchange of goods. For example, a guild of brewers from the state of Maine is joining forces with breweries across Yorkshire this year in a product and knowledge exchange.
The partnership will see some of Yorkshire’s finest beers featured at Maine Brewers’ Guild’s Winter Session Beer Festival in Portland for the month of November.
While many producers are already doing business across the Atlantic, there are several factors that first-time, or ad hoc exporters need to consider before stocking their products on American shelves.
From a legal perspective, firms must ensure that they are registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that their products and distribution processes comply with the relevant US safety and packaging legislation.
All food labels must include key details such as a product description, the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor, and an indication of product quantity in both metric and US customary units – measures similar to our imperial units, but with specific US values.
Firms looking for assistance in navigating US customs could contract the services of a customs broker, who are legally authorised by US authorities to coordinate the import of goods to the US.
As in the UK, regional producers must carry out thorough due diligence to ensure that brokers, agents and distributors are in full compliance with relevant regulations and take out adequate insurance to cover the cost of their products and operations.
To maximise the chances of success, firms should make sure they have a robust business plan in place before they enter the marketplace.
This should take into account the variation of taxation systems and trade regulations from state to state, and the differing levels of demand and market competition. It’s essential to remember that the US market is not a single entity.
To help companies succeed in exporting abroad and navigate these issues effectively, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and DIT offer an extensive support programme for food and drink producers under the Food is GREAT campaign.
The government has 29 experienced international trade advisers on hand in Yorkshire and the Humber to assist firms that are keen to start or grow their American export base. An extensive network of support staff in consulates and embassies across the US are also engaged in helping British produces enter and navigate this market.
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