50 Years of Fueling Growth of Northeast Food Exports

Food Export - Northeast celebrates milestone of aiding U.S. suppliers to market food and agriculture products overseas.

Food Export USA–Northeast was formed on July 18, 1973, to empower Northeastern U.S. companies to start or expand their exports of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products. As the organization commemorates its 50th anniversary, it celebrates the achievements of the thousands of small- and medium-sized U.S. exporters it has served.

“We’ve seen that companies who commit resources to exporting can achieve substantial business growth,” said Food Export–Northeast Executive Director/CEO Brendan Wilson. “The benefits of this growth ripple out into surrounding communities with increased employment and purchases of products from the region’s farms, fisheries, and supporting industries. By providing training and support for these exporters, Food Export– Northeast is proud to contribute to the advancing of rural and urban economic development in the Northeast.”

One long-time participant in Food Export–Northeast’s programs and services, Life Plus Style Gourmet, LLC of Westbury, New York, was founded in 2013 and offers a wide array of snacks, such as popcorn, cookies, syrups, seasonings, mixes, potato chips, and confectionary products. When the company first started working with Food Export–Northeast in 2014, it exported to two markets and their export sales comprised approximately 1% of the company’s total annual sales.

With the aid of programs and services offered by Food Export-Northeast, Life Plus Style Gourmet was able to learn the mechanics of exporting, explore potential new markets, and meet qualified international buyers. The company also tapped into cost-share funding support for export promotional activities, which made it more feasible to exhibit at international trade shows and to update product packaging for export markets.

The company now proudly exports to 22 markets and their exports have grown to comprise 20% of annual sales. Robi Nedboy, VP/Director of Marketing said: “For instance, an introduction by Food Export to a buyer in the United Arab Emirates seven years ago has developed into a solid, ongoing export partnership. I have never seen an organization where everybody truly wanted to help me. That has been a primary key to our success with Food Export–Northeast.”

Another Food Export-Northeast participant, Bristol Seafood, LLC is a processor of sea scallops and frozen, ready-to-cook seafood. Bristol is committed to sustainable business practices and is the first Fair Trade certified seafood company in the United States. Bristol Seafood, LLC has taken part in Food Export programs since 2018, participating in Export Essentials Online, webinars, the Market Builder program, the Branded Program, and the Online Product Catalog. The company has also attended Buyers Missions, Focused Trade Missions, and used Food Show PLUS!™ services.

“We are proud that our products have strong overseas demand,” said Peter Handy, Bristol Seafood’s President & CEO. “It speaks to how we do business. Food Export helps us with so many aspects of our international sales and the global exposure has made us a better company. We’ve had product lines developed for foreign customers that have become bestsellers back home.”

“Throughout these 50 years, Food Export-Northeast has been a dependable and adaptable resource for small- and medium-sized U.S. companies to remain competitive and gain exposure for their brands in countries around the globe during ever-changing economic times,” said Amanda Beal, President of the Food Export-Northeast Board and Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “The state departments of agriculture in the Northeast greatly appreciate our strong partnership with Food Export-Northeast, as we work together to support our food producers as they seek new and expanded market access, and development opportunities for their businesses.”

Food Export–Northeast is a private, non-profit organization that cooperates with the agricultural promotion agencies of its 10 member states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) to facilitate trade between suppliers and worldwide importers, and to promote the export of food, agricultural and seafood products from those states. The organization is funded through the Market Access Program (MAP), administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. In 2023, Food Export–Northeast received $8,393,146 of funding and stands as the fourth largest recipient among the 67 program participants.

Since 2000, Food Export–Northeast has had a strategic alliance with Food Export-Midwest. The organizations collaborate to provide a wide range of services to facilitate trade between Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. food suppliers and importers around the world.