Success Stories

Each year, hundreds of U.S. suppliers participate in Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast’s programs.  As a result, companies are successful at generating new export sales, establishing new distributorships, expanding their production facilities, and hiring additional employees.  Read these success stories to learn more.

If your company has a success to share, email us at

Spirited New Exports for Wisconsin Supplier

by Food Export | Jul 08, 2016
Death’s Door Spirits, located in Middleton, Wisconsin, in the 2nd Congressional District, is a producer of gin, vodka, whisky, and peppermint schnapps using wheat sourced from Washington Island, Wisconsin.

 In 2015, Death’s Door participated in Food Export – Midwest’s Branded Program to help offset the costs of marketing their gin and spirits abroad. They saw strong growth thanks to help from the program in Canada, United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium.

In Canada, Death’s Door used the Branded Program for 50% reimbursement on marketing events, training, label modifications, advertisements, and other PR-related activities. According to Margaret Ebeling, International Marketing Specialist with the company, “Canada is a new market for us in 2015. We’ve learned it’s a very competitive and selective market, so it’s crucial for American spirits to have a strong marketing approach. Thanks to our marketing efforts supported by the Branded Program, we have established ourselves as a high quality American gin. As a result, we exceeded our expected sales projections for the year by 60%.”

In the United Kingdom, they also stepped up their marketing efforts and saw similar positive results. They’ve been selling to the market for 5 years now but the increase in promotions in 2015 resulted in an increase in sales of 25% over the previous year. They exhibited at shows including the Manchester and London Bar Shows and the Imbibe Show in London in June. Margaret Ebeling commented, “The Branded Program allowed us to exhibit at some of these more expensive shows that we otherwise would not have been able to afford. Due to strong growth in the market we are excited to launch new products to the UK market in 2016.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Death’s Door used the Branded Program for label modifications and put on a training seminar for bartenders in Italy. They promoted their spirits in a booth at the Milan Gin Day in September. In Belgium, they modified their labels for the market and exhibited at the Spirits in the Sky Show in Brussels in November. Thanks to these marketing efforts, Death’s Door saw sales to Italy and Belgium exceed their projections in each market by 50%.

Death’s Door plans to continue using the Branded Program into 2016 and beyond to help grow the international side of their business. In 2015, they hired a new distiller to keep up with demand and also have 3 international sales consultants on staff.

According to Margaret Ebeling, “The Branded Program has helped us understand how we can be better marketers of our products. We’ve expanded our current markets as well as opened new markets which we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. For us it is important not just to get our product on the shelves but make sure our bottles are the ones taken down off the shelves by consumers. The Branded Program has helped us build excitement and awareness of our products to help accomplish this.”

Death’s Door Spirits is a Wisconsin-based supplier of gin, vodka, whisky, and peppermint schnapps. They take their name from the body of water between Door County peninsula and Washington Island from which they source their hard red winter wheat to make their vodka, gin and white whisky. They supply their products to retail and food service industries.

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.

Story written December 2015 - Death's Door Spirits LLC is located in the 2nd Congressional District in Wisconsin

Export Intelligence Video Series -Hong Kong

See more videos