The international marketplace offers great opportunities to Michigan food companies who wish to increase sales. Worldwide, consumer food product exports are growing three times faster than U.S. sales. Though exporting can seem intimidating, Michigan food and agriculture companies can look to upcoming export assistance programs that are happening nearby in Grand Rapids and Canada as a way to enter export markets.

The upcoming focused trade mission to Canada is aimed at natural and specialty food companies. Natural and specialty products are a part of a growing food industry trend worldwide because both domestic and international consumers love to have access to a variety of food product options. In Canada, there are not enough suppliers to meet the growing demand for natural and specialty foods so buyers are continuing to look toward the U.S. to meet the needs of the growing market. Natural, gluten free, ethnic, specialty, healthy snack, GMO-free, and organic foods are all in high demand in Canada.

Michigan food companies are perfectly positioned to help meet Canadian consumer demand for natural and specialty products. As Michigan’s number one trade partner, Canada imported $1.2 billion in Michigan food agricultural products in 2013.

However, breaking into a new market in the specialty food industry is not easy. Specialty Food Magazine’s 2014 report found that a problem in the industry is that there are too many companies trying to get into business with “no idea what they’re doing.” Michigan companies can overcome this problem with strategic planning and by visiting the Canadian market. The Food Export Association of the Midwest’s Focused Trade Mission to Canada for natural and specialty products on September 3-4 2014, provides the perfect opportunity for Michigan companies to tap into Canada’s growing demand.

During the trade mission, companies can meet with an in-market representative to gain Canadian market insight and strategies for exportation. Food Export in-market representatives are experts in international markets and can provide strategic information to companies on the food market and regulatory environment in order to facilitate international trade.

If international travel is not in the budget, companies can meet with international buyers at the upcoming Midwest Buyers Mission in Grand Rapids on July 21. Food companies can meet one-on-one with up to 20 international buyers and establish new trade relationships without traveling out of Michigan. There will be buyers from a variety of market segments such as specialty, gourmet, organic, wholesale, and retail. There will also be in-market representatives from Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Europe, and the Middle East.

Food Export Association of the Midwest partners with the International Marketing Program at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to help Michigan food industry businesses expand their international marketing scope by utilizing federal export assistance programs.

Companies interested in learning more about the International Marketing Program can visit, or contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers, International Marketing Manager, at (517)-284-5738 or Please “follow” the International Marketing Program on Twitter @MiAgExport, and “like” the International Marketing Program at on Facebook!

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