How To Repurpose Branded Program Funds for 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, but Food Export’s Branded Program is here to help. We are committed to helping you revise your plans and repurpose your 2020 allocation.

by Mike Hamrock, International Marketing & Branded Program Associate, Food Export – Midwest

Have your export plans for 2020 been impacted by COVID-19?

Were you planning to attend multiple trade shows that were cancelled after you incurred expenses? Are there other barriers to promoting your products overseas?

You’re not alone.

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, but Food Export’s Branded Program is here to help. We are committed to helping you revise your plans and repurpose your 2020 allocation.

Since the onset of COVID-19 in the U.S. in early March both domestic and international trade shows have been canceled left and right, leaving many Branded participants with a huge gap in their export plans.  From Natural Products Expo West to SIAL Canada, many trade show organizers have been forced to forgo their plans leaving suppliers with hefty non-refundable expenses among other inconveniences. 

The good news is that trade shows aren’t the only way to market your products internationally! Below we show a few examples of alternative ways for suppliers to make the most of their Branded funds:

1. In-Store Promotions

Many of our suppliers had initially applied to only receive funding for trade shows in 2020.  For one Midwest supplier when a trade show they were planning for was eventually postponed and later canceled, the supplier was left with significant non-refundable costs; some of which the Branded Program could reimburse for and some which they could not. 

After a quick phone call with their Branded Program staff contact we learned that they were working with Canadian distributors and several of their expenses were eligible for Branded reimbursement.  For instance, they were running in-store promotions for their product in dozens of marketplaces across the country and nearly all of the fees associated were eligible, and they had no idea!

In March the supplier was overwhelmed and worried that all of their funding would go to waste, but now with a bit of creativity and help from dedicated Branded staff they are on track to utilize 100% of their 2020 funds and might even request more!


2. Online Promotions & Website Development

There is perhaps no better way to utilize your Branded Program funds right now than developing online advertising content and a new website.  Over the last few years we have seen an uptick in online or website related expenses in the Branded Program, as suppliers are taking advantage of the benefits of virtual promotions. 

In one case, a supplier who regularly ran product demos to the Middle-East experienced logistical issues where not only did they have trouble shipping their product, but many of the stores they were planning demonstration in shut down in person activities in fear of spreading COVID-19. 

Like the previous example, this supplier invested most of their Branded participation into these demonstrations so they feared 2020 would be a bust.  When they reached out to the Branded staff we discussed all of the international marketing expenses they incurred and found they were currently designing a new website geared towards a foreign audience, and launching a massive social media campaign targeting several countries around the globe. Many of the costs relating to those efforts could be reimbursed through the program!

Some of the costs we reimbursed for were:

  • Domain, maintenance, translation, new banners, landing pages for websites targeting a foreign audience
  • Social media advertisement including product plugs by influencers or KOLs, Facebook ads, a social media manager to plan and design your posts, a Facebook, Instagram, or other platform page dedicated to an international audience
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) costs
  • Banners or advertisements for your product placed on another website (Amazon, Momo, TMall, Alibaba)


3. Foreign-Compliant Packaging & Labeling

A common eligible expense that often goes overlooked is updating your labels/packaging to be compliant with another country’s import regulations.  It is a fantastic way to utilize any extra funding you may have for 2020.  Some of the related costs we can cover are:

  • Translation of labels or stickers
  • Graphic design work
  • Plate fees
  • Labor costs required to relabel your products

This year one supplier reached out to us who annually relies very heavily on reimbursement for international travel related costs. They regularly attend 3-5 shows every year in a variety of markets, which also produces a lot of marketing material costs among other activities.  Without being able to travel and attend international tradeshow , they researched the Branded Program Manual and found that they could shift their focus in 2020 to pushing new products into overseas markets, and with our help, a large chunk of the label costs could be covered. 

Now, not only are they creating fresh labels for new products and reworking old non-compliant labels, but they only have to cover 50% of those costs themselves with our help! By making the most of their Branded funding now, they are gaining the knowledge and experience to be a successful Branded Program participant for years to come.  Now they have introduced new products into new markets that they can receive even more Branded Program funding for.

Learn more about label modifications in our recent blog.

We know the world is very challenging right now especially for the U.S. exporting community. Food Export’s Branded Program and dedicated staff are here to help you accomplish marketing goals that you thought you could not have before. In this unprecedented year, take some time to chat with us and ensure that you are making the most of your Branded Program funds.

Have questions? You can always get in touch with your Branded Program contact or email  and