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.

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Illinois Supplier Grows Export Success Year After Year

by Food Export | Jul 11, 2016
For over 60 years Tee Lee has been growing, processing and packaging quality popcorn in the heart of America’s Corn Belt. This family owned business takes great pride in their popcorn. And they are continuously working to offer the best hybrids to achieve the best possible growing and popping results.

Closely linked to one of the busiest shipping ports in the U.S., they have the capability to send 2,500 bulk totes or private label popcorn around the world in a timely, efficient manner.

Always seeking ways to improve on perfection and increase sales, Tee Lee started working with Food Export Association of the Midwest in 2007. The Illinois Supplier has utilized Food Export’s Online Product Catalog, attended free seminars, used the Food Export Helpline™, participated in eight Buyers Missions, and utilized Food Show PLUS!™ services at eleven international shows. Tee Lee has also participated in the Branded Program for six years utilizing the cost reimbursement program to lessen the heavy expenses associated with exhibiting at international tradeshows. These Branded Program funds helped Tee Lee focus on TPP country exports specifically, Canada and Japan.

Increasing export sales by 75% since 2012 Tee Lee continues to look for new export opportunities by utilizing Food Export’s support, educational programs and activities. Over the past three years Tee Lee has had to hire three additional support staff members to handle the increase in international business.

Based in Shannon, Illinois in the state’s 17th Congressional District, Tee Lee Popcorn has been producing and offering the best of quality popcorn in Mid-West America since 1944 and serves the retail and private label market.  


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 March 2016 - Tee Lee Popcorn is located in the 17th Congressional District in Illinois

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