Branded Program Industry Spotlight Series: Alcoholic Beverages

Part 1 of a new blog series that features industry segments and explores how to use the Branded Program to it's fullest potential. This post is about Alcoholic Beverages.

by Molly Burns, Branded Program Manager, Food Export-Midwest

International sales are more important than ever to grow your business and diversify risk from the U.S. domestic market. Marketing support is essential to grow those international sales. Food Export’s Branded Program recognizes marketing’s essential role and helps make it possible by reimbursing Midwest and Northeast food and agricultural suppliers for 50% of their international marketing expenses

In this blog series we feature a new industry segment each month and give specific examples per industry segment of how suppliers can utilize the Branded Program to the fullest of its potential.

‘Food Export’ may be our name, but we assist U.S. exporters with more than just food products! In this blog I’d like to highlight our work in the Branded Program with wineries, distilleries, breweries, and other exporters of alcoholic beverages.

Since 2018, suppliers of alcoholic beverages have been reimbursed over $2 million for 50% of their international marketing expenses. Some of these suppliers are experienced exporters, with established importers, while others are just starting to explore international sales.

Popular Beer, Wine & Spirit Promotions

We reimburse a variety of creative international promotions in the Branded Program, and promotions of beer, wine, and spirits are no exception. Here are a few popular types of promotions for beer, wine, and spirits:

Bar & Retail Promotions

  • For alcohol companies, we often reimburse for sampling events in bars, restaurants, and retail locations. Expenses include paying the venue to host the event, purchasing sampling supplies, hiring contractors to run the event, etc.
  • We reimburse for other retail promotions such as aisle endcap displays, bottle necktags, shelftalkers, and signage.

Giveaway Items

  • Giveaway items are important marketing tools, particularly for breweries. One of the giveaway items that we frequently reimburse for is branded glassware. Don’t forget, all reimbursable promotions must include a U.S. origin statement!

Founders Glass Jars
Branded glassware example from Founders Brewery.

Export Packaging & Labeling

  • Many foreign markets require different labels or stickers for imported alcoholic beverages. You may need to change the bottle size, translate your product information into another language, add your importer information, etc. We can reimburse for the design, translation, printing, and stickering of your cans and bottles with the new labels. Learn more here.


  • Billboards, television, radio ads, and other traditional forms of marketing are popular for alcoholic beverages. Their creation, placement, and translation costs are eligible for reimbursement.

Social Media

  • Alcohol companies often invest heavily in high-quality social media content. You could produce high-quality videos and photography, or hire a management company to handle your international social media. We can reimburse for all those costs.

Michigan Cherries Instagram Post
Instagram post featuring dried cherries from Michigan

Shows & Festivals

KOVAL booth
Koval Distillery’s booth at Bar Convent, listing the many eligible expenses.

Success Stories

Check out these companies who’ve successfully utilized the Branded Program to support their international sales:

Alexander Minn Wine Group of Brooklyn, New York worked with the Branded Program to grow their export sales to China. Read their full Success Story here.

Saugatuck Brewing Company of Douglas, Michigan started utilizing the Branded Program in 2016. The program has helped them gain international brand awareness, foreign buyer contacts, and new export sales of their craft beer. In 2019, they utilized their allocated program funds to grow their exports in South Korea and Ukraine by attending tradeshows in both markets and promoting their beers with promotional materials. As a result of those efforts they gained $89,000 in sales to South Korea and $20,000 to Ukraine.

KOVAL Distillery of Chicago, Illinois has participated in the Branded Program since 2015. They experienced continued growth in 2020 where they reported significant new export sales to several European countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In addition to steady sales numbers, KOVAL Distillery also announced new distributor partnerships across several of these markets while utilizing their allocated Market Access Program (MAP) Branded Program funds.

How Can We Help?

Are you promoting beer, wine, or spirits in foreign markets? We’d love to work with you! Get started today with a pre-qualification here.

We’d also encourage you to reach out to other organizations that offer export development programs focused specifically on your industry:

Make sure to check out these partner organization’s social media accounts to get the most up to date info on their events and efforts in the industry!