Executive Director, Food Export Association of the Midwest USA and Food Export USA – Northeast
Tim Hamilton is Executive Director of the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA (Food Export-Midwest) and Food Export USA-Northeast (Food Export-Northeast). Together these associations offer international trade development services to U.S. exporters in over 40 countries around the world. Tim works directly with the U.S. food industry, government officials, importers and distributors throughout the world to design and implement export development and promotion activities for U.S. food and agricultural products. Tim also leads programs that provide financial support to U.S. exporters of food and agricultural products through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program.
In addition, Tim currently serves as Chairman of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council. He has also been appointed to the U.S. Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Processed Foods by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative. He is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and the Association Forum of Chicago.
Prior to joining Food Export-Midwest in 1991 and Food Export-Northeast in 2000, Tim was the general manager of a Chicago-based natural food producer. Prior to that he was a volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa. As an agricultural extension agent, he focused on increasing food production by working directly with farmers and ranchers in a remote region of the country. A Wisconsin native, Tim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of International Business from DePaul University in Chicago.
Food and agricultural trade is an important part of the world’s economy. In 2005, US agricultural exports totaled $63.9 billion. Agricultural exports are expected to increase three to four percent yearly over the next several years. As one of the world’s leading food-producing areas, the Northeast is well positioned to capture part of this growing international market. Food Export-Northeast programs and services have helped numerous companies with their international sales and marketing efforts.
Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast are private non-profit international trade organizations whose members are 12 Midwest and 10 Northeastern state agricultural promotion agencies. They are affiliated in an alliance and are headed by one executive director for both groups. Their members include state departments of agriculture, state departments of economic development and state departments of commerce. They work with small and mid-sized food and agricultural companies that produce value-added consumer-oriented products — from food ingredients and packaged foods to animal feed and other agricultural products.
They also work with the Foreign Agricultural Service, an international marketing agency within the United States Department of Agriculture to provide programs and services to support U.S. exports. The combined organization has in-market representatives in Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, France, Germany, United Kingdom, the Middle East, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
To qualify for programs and services, a producer must be headquartered in or have a processing facility in the region. The organization provides marketing support to companies selling branded foods, food ingredients, food service products, feed ingredients and other products. Programs can help with the entire exporting process, from learning about the basics of exporting to identifying opportunities and potential distributors. Services also help fund marketing campaigns to promote products overseas. Services are offered in three areas — outreach and exporter education, market entry and in-market promotion.
Print and electronic materials educate businesses about exporting and importing opportunities and trends. A helpline and training enable producers to enhance their knowledge of the exporting process. Newsletters and e-mail bulletins target U.S. exporters and international buyers. Web sites, including Foodexport.org, the organization’s web site, target domestic and international audiences. They have a database of more than 500 service companies, including trading companies, shipper associations, export marketing companies, freight forwarders, international bankers and lawyers, trade associations and export brokers. Online education tools and seminars assist U.S. exporters.
The list of programs includes:
- Market Builder which helps find the right market for a product.
- Food Show PLUS! which provides technical and logistical assistance to help exporters be prepared at international trade shows.
- Buyers Missions which arranges meetings between exporters and pre-qualified international buyers during a visit to the U.S.
- Trade Missions which arranges meetings between exporters and potential buyers in overseas markets.
- Trade Lead Connection which provides leads to exporters for follow-up directly with international buyers.
- The Branded Program which is a cost-share program that provides funds to help promote banded products in international markets. Participating companies receive 50 percent reimbursement of eligible expenses spent on international marketing and promotion.
The number of companies participating in the organization’s programs grows every year as do sales that are a direct result of companies using our services. A variety of metrics track success of the organization and these figures are reported to the Foreign Agricultural Service annually.
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