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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Family-Owned Illinois Supplier Exports to the Middle East

by Food Export | Jul 17, 2018
Family-owned Schafer Fisheries, in Thomson, Illinois, could probably teach a thing or two about the value of persistence. USDA MAP-funding support made it possible for the company to exhibit at Seafood Expo Global, in 2017.

There they met a buyer from Saudi Arabia, and twenty months later, in July 2018, the first 40-foot container of Asian carp was on its way to the Middle East. If this trial shipment is satisfactory, Schafer Fisheries could soon be shipping eight containers a month, each weighing 25 metric tons, helping to rid American waterways of a nuisance fish while making money doing so.

Initially introduced in the southeast to help control weeds and parasites in aquaculture operations, these hardy fish soon spread up through the Mississippi River system where they have been crowding out native fish populations that are unable to compete against the aggressive invaders. The federal government’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force considers the Asian carp to be nuisance species. Federal and state governments have spent millions in tax dollars on unsuccessful control measures to curb their spread. Turning these fish into food for human consumption may be one measure that is both successful and profitable. Foreign market development takes patience, dedication, and persistence. According to company owner Mike Schafer, “There were lots of holdups and issues to tackle. Labeling and needing Saudi Arabian government approval were two factors causing huge delays.” Persistence ultimately paid off.

USDA MAP-funding support has been critical to helping Schafer make necessary business connections by making it possible to exhibit at foreign trade shows. The company exports worldwide including Canada, Germany, Romania, Poland, Sweden, Israel, Indonesia, China, and Mexico. In November, Schafer Fisheries will exhibit with Food Export-Northeast at the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo, in Qingdao, China. According to Mike Schafer, they hope “to connect with a processor that can turn Asian carp fillets into breaded fish nuggets.” It would be a new company item and a product that their new buyer from Saudi Arabia is requesting.

Food Export USA-Northeast is a private, non-profit association of Northeastern state agricultural promotion agencies that use federal, state, and industry resources to promote the export of Northeastern food, fishery and agricultural products. Food Export-Northeast administers many services through Market Access Program (MAP) funding from the USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service.

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