Each U.S. supplier created a virtual booth where they uploaded product sell sheets, company or product videos, and other sales-related materials. International buyers from 65 countries spanning the globe were provided with information about each U.S. supplier in advance of the show, as well as individual show log-in details, so they could visit suppliers of interest. Prior to the show, U.S. suppliers prepared for their participation with assistance from Food Export's educational services and the Export Advisor Program. This was the first virtual event for most participants and the international buyers were not disappointed.
The goal of the virtual trade show was to establish business relationships resulting in export sales at the time of the show or over the pursuing months. One such success was a business relationship established between Katz Gluten Free and Global Fine Foods Ltd., an importer in Hong Kong servicing the retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors. Katz Gluten Free, located in Mountainville, New York, evolved as a result of Mrs. Katz’s desire to create great-tasting gluten-free foods for her two children suffering from gluten intolerance. With growing enthusiasm from others for her in-home baking craft, Mrs. Katz expanded her operation to address a wide spectrum of allergy restrictions from nut allergies, to dairy allergies, to soy allergies and beyond. Growing from a one-woman kitchen bakery to a certified (Gluten Intolerance Group, OU and Rabbi Y. Gruber) state-of-the-art facility, completely nut & dairy free, Mrs. Katz now creates allergy-friendly baked goods to fulfill all sorts of dietary restrictions. This is exactly the type of company the buyer from Hong Kong was hoping to find at Virtual Connect. According to Faigy Spitzer, Director of International Business Development, the buyer initially requested a range of frozen product samples in order to solicit feedback from their customers. Within a short time, Faigy shared the good news that, “We received our first P.O. as a result of Virtual Connect and it was a nice size order.” Faigy went on to say that, “Virtual Connect worked very well for us and we anticipate more sales results. Without these virtual activities offered by Food Export, we would have limited opportunities to connect with international buyers during COVID.”
Food Export uses funding from the Market Access Program (MAP) to help America’s small businesses increase their exports of food and agricultural products. As these exports increase, these small businesses are creating jobs and improving the strength and stability of our agricultural economy. Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast are non-profit organizations that work in collaboration with their member state departments of agriculture and the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. They offer a wide range of programs and services that help boost America’s agricultural exports.