From the Desk of the CEO: September 2023

As the Executive Director/CEO of Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast, I cherish a singular question: how can we better connect U.S. food, farm, and fishing products with the world? Food Export’s mission is clear — to empower small- and medium-sized businesses to make international sales. I am honored to kickstart a monthly series reflecting on the work we do, our impact, industry challenges, and any insights we’ve picked up along the way.

Approach and Impact: Food Export provides in-depth education to our suppliers so they can make the best decisions for their businesses. We are able to provide financial assistance through the Market Access Program (MAP) supported by funding from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). We also provide expert analysis on numerous markets across the globe, provide introductions to buyers and connect buyers and suppliers at Focused Trade Missions and Buyers Missions, and support efforts at trade shows across the world.

The work we do has a real impact on our regions and international markets. In our 23 member states, nearly US$2 billion in food and ag-related products was exported in 2022. The work we do is personal. We often work one-on-one with the founder of the company, and these companies reside in places that are or were home for much of the staff. Our team takes great pride in helping bring the best in American food to new international destinations.

Dedication and Insights: I have been with Food Export for more than a decade. I began as a coordinator in our International Marketing Program and worked my way up through our organization, building relationships with suppliers, colleagues, and civil servants. In my time, I have watched as our organization helped firms through the pandemic, supply chain issues, trade conflict, fluctuating currencies, and more.

Each month, I will be sharing what’s new at Food Export, our plans for the future, some things I am learning in my role, and just general updates from our industry. Upcoming topics could include the Farm Bill, trade barriers, or some behind-the-scenes looks at Food Export.

Join Us: We are hosting a webinar on October 20 to introduce our newest In-Market Representative for Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a chance for suppliers to learn more about this region, buyers, and trends. If this region intrigues you, please join us by registering on Registration on our website is free and just takes moments.

Food Export changed platforms last month for its website and database. This massive undertaking took more than two years of planning, countless hours, and lots of hard work by our team. I would like to publicly thank them for their time and efforts on this project. Our new site is modern, faster, and can better serve the small- and medium-sized companies we support.

Personal Background: I want you to get to know me and Food Export. I’m not just the CEO, I’m a husband and dad. While my role is demanding, it will never misalign my priorities as a partner and father. I grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and now call Chicago home. I worked as an English instructor in Moscow, Russia, prior to moving here. I have a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I’m currently enrolled in the University of Notre Dame’s MBA program.

I occasionally give tours on the Chicago River as a volunteer docent at the Chicago Architecture Center. I think I am the only docent who talks about agriculture and trade as much as Art Deco and urban planning. Maybe I can sneak a few things from that part of my life into this space.

Your Input Matters: If there is a topic you wish for me to discuss in this space, let me know. You can reach me at Just put Attn: Brendan Wilson in the subject line.