Companies eager to promote their food and agricultural products across the globe can now apply for the 2012 Branded Program, which offers 50 percent reimbursement for international marketing costs.* This unique opportunity for small U.S. businesses is made possible by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program and administered by four non-profit organizations known as State Regional Trade Groups (SRTGs).

"Food and agricultural exporting remains an incredibly bright spot in today's recovering economy, and the Branded Program provides small manufacturers the opportunity to compete in various foreign markets. This leads to increased output, and in many cases, job creation at a local level," states Tim Hamilton, Executive Director of the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA in Chicago, which is one of the four SRTGs that manage the Branded Program across all 50 states. The other associations include Food Export USA – Northeast, the Southern U.S. Trade Association, and the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association. As a group, they have introduced U.S. companies to foreign markets for over 30 years and support the National Export Initiative's goal of doubling American exports by 2015.

The Branded Program enables suppliers across the U.S. to double their overseas marketing budgets, and in 2010, 670 U.S. food and agricultural companies received assistance through the SRTGs. According to Patrick Ford, Vice President of International Marketing for Ford's Gourmet Foods of North Carolina, "We truly believe that the financial support to attend shows and expand our advertising efforts from MAP Branded played an important role in our growth overseas." He added, "In a short period of time, our Bone Suckin' Sauces, Wine Nuts and other products went from fairly well known to internationally acclaimed in more than 50 countries around the world."

Program participants like Ford's Gourmet Foods receive up to 50 percent cost reimbursement on eligible marketing and promotional endeavors, such as exhibiting at select international and U.S. trade shows, advertising, product demonstrations, package and label modifications and more.

Contact your region's SRTG office today to learn more about the Branded Program, and join the hundreds of other food and agriculture companies across the country that are finding success in foreign markets.

• Food Export Association of the Midwest USA – Chicago, IL - 312-334-9200 – www.foodexport.org

• Food Export USA – Northeast – Philadelphia, PA – 215-829-9111 – www.foodexport.org

• Southern U.S. Trade Association (SUSTA) – New Orleans, LA – 504-568-5986 – www.susta.org

• Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Assoc. (WUSATA) – Vancouver, WA – 360-693-3373 – www.wusata.org

*Reimbursable expenses have specific eligibility requirements or criteria that must be met. Please contact your region's Branded Program Manager for more details.