Exporting 101: The Basics

Ready to start exporting? We have a TON of valuable resources to make sure you get started on the right track!

Happy New Year!

January is a time for resolutions and fresh starts so we thought it was the perfect time to go back over some of the basics about exporting.

For those of you just starting out or even thinking about exporting this will be a helpful guide to some first steps and the resources available to you through Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast. For those of you who have been exporting for a while it will be a helpful refresher and maybe even show you some resources we have that you weren’t aware of!

So let’s start at the beginning.

Why Export?

You’re a small business with a focus on the U.S. market making good strides, why should you think about learning how and where to export your products? 

World Population

There are MANY advantages to exporting and you can read a full detailed list on our website. We’ll start by saying that exporting is an excellent way to expand and grow your business.  95% of the world’s population and two-thirds of total world purchasing power are located outside of the United States.  That’s a pretty large audience you’re missing out on if you don’t export. 

World Purchasing Power

Exports of consumer food products are growing 3 times faster than sales here in the U.S.  They have soared in recent years in response to international consumers’ growing purchasing power and lower trade barriers.

Availability of International Markets

Did you know that the U.S. currently has over 20 Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) in force with countries around the world to help decrease America’s trade deficit? These FTA’s have lowered many trade restrictions for U.S. products, giving U.S. exporters an unprecedented level of access to international markets. 

Colored Map

Export Assistance Is Available

Many companies shy away from exporting because they don’t know how or where to get started. Fortunately, help is available! Food Export-Midwest, Food Export-Northeast and your local state agricultural promotion agencies can provide your company with a wide range of export assistance to help introduce you to the world of exporting.

And we’ve been doing this for a while, 50 years for Food Export-Midwest and 45 years for Food Export-Northeast so we have the knowledge and connections in the industry to help you achieve export success!

Benefits of Exporting – For You

  • Increase Sales and Profits: 
    If your company is succeeding domestically, expanding overseas will likely improve overall profitability as well. Average orders from international customers are often larger than they are domestically, since importers overseas stock by the container rather than by the pallet. Furthermore, increased sales tend to increase productivity by lowering per unit fixed costs.
  • Short-Term Security: 
    By expanding into international markets and spreading your risk over a wider customer base, companies become less dependent upon the ups and downs of the domestic economy and the likes/dislikes of the American consumer.
  • Long-Term Security: 
    The U.S. is a large market with a wealth of opportunity, but it is also a mature market with intense competition from domestic and increasingly foreign competitors. We are approaching the day when we will be doing business in a single “global market” instead of foreign and domestic markets. For most food and ag companies, therefore, exporting isn’t just a way to maximize profits today. It also represents the future of their businesses tomorrow.
  • Enhance Competitiveness: 
    Repeated studies have shown that exporting improves companies’ competitive advantage. Establishing your company overseas will provide a new global perspective and can facilitate improvements with existing and new products. Oftentimes companies discover an innovative product developed for an overseas market that turns out to be a success domestically, too. In addition, exporting can help you compete more effectively against foreign competitors here in the U.S.
  • Economies of Scale: 
    Exporting is an excellent way to enjoy pure economies of scale with products that are more “global” in scope and have a wider range of acceptance around the world. This is in contrast to products that must be adapted for each market, which is expensive and time consuming and requires more of an investment. The newer the product, the wider range of acceptance in the world, especially to younger “customers,” often referred to as the “global consumer”.

Export Education

Entering the market takes know-how. 

Food Export has a set of educational programs and activities that can help give you that know-how knowledge.  Learn the why’s and how’s of exporting and see what opportunities may be waiting for you!

The right export education is vital to being prepared to begin the process of exporting.  We’ve heard before from the international buyers participating in our various events that they really like the products and/or company but they simply aren’t ready for exporting yet.  But YOU CAN BE. 

We have all the resources you need on our website, and many of them are free!

Export Essentials Online

Train when you want, where you want with our Export Essentials Online.  An 11 Module learn as you go online program that offers an introduction to exporting. Web-based materials provide you with maximum flexibility. 

Export Essentials


Each month we have new topical LIVE webinars to continue expanding your education.  We also have an extensive backlog of recorded webinars for you to watch so you can take your education into your own hands and watch at the right pace for you. 


Throughout the year Food Export hosts a variety of in person seminars on important export topics.  This is a great opportunity for in person learning and networking in the industry.

Export Intelligence Video Series

One of the ways that Food Export communicates the benefits of exporting to your company is through video! 

Get new info about our programs, services, and export markets with our Export Intelligence Video Series.  We even have country specific videos that can help you expand your education for a certain region or market segment.

Export Intelligence Video Series

Country & Market Profiles

Speaking of country specific information take a look at our Country & Market Profiles page.  Here we have 44 in depth country reports sharing a variety of information from the current amount of U.S. ag exports to the country, to best prospect products, to recent Foreign Ag Service GAIN Reports.

This is a great place to learn more about specific markets that you may be interested in exporting to and find out what products are the best fit for those markets.

Country Market Profile

Food Export Helpline™

Buyers Mission - Blog Size

Another valuable tool when learning to export is the Food Export Helpline™. Whether you’re new to exporting or experienced there are always specific issues and questions that are unique to your company, products, and export markets.

The Food Export HelplineTM enables you to speak with an industry expert who’ll put more than 34 years of experience to work for you. There are no canned answers, only insightful, customized advice specifically for you.

It will help you to navigate the sometimes murky waters of exporting and prove to be an invaluable resource in gaining international sales.

We hope this helps start you on your journey of exporting.  If you have any questions about our programs and services free to reach out to the Liaison assigned to your state!