NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - Successful companies find ways to thrive in any economy, and many American agricultural firms are discovering the power of exports to help them do just that despite current conditions. That is why, with the international market for agricultural products poised for significant growth in 2011, the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) is showing more of these companies how to tap this potential through its Branded program.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's initial outlook for 2011 agricultural trade, released just recently, forecasts that American exports will rise by $5.5 billion to $113 billion, which would be the second-highest annual total on record. This forecast represents new sales opportunities for American companies that position themselves to build their market presence abroad.
"Foreign markets hold great promise for increased sales, and now is an optimal time for U.S. agricultural companies new to exporting to explore these opportunities and be part of the surge that's expected to take place," says SUSTA Executive Director Jerry Hingle. "The world economy is rebounding, and interest in U.S. food products is on the rise. With the Branded program and our other services, we're ready to help companies take advantage of these trends and reap the rewards."


The Branded program is a gateway for small U.S. companies to access international markets and build their sales abroad. Administered by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Branded program provides matching funds and expert assistance to help U.S. agricultural companies pay for consumer promotions, participation in trade shows and other international marketing activities. American companies eligible to participate in SUSTA's Branded program are small firms with products made using at least 50 percent U.S. ingredients.


"Companies exporting food and agricultural products from the southern United States have already experienced a 13 percent boost in exports so far this year, and we're seeing overseas demand rising again for 2011," says Bernadette Wiltz, SUSTA's Deputy Director and International Marketing Director. "It's clear that increased exports give American companies opportunities to build their sales and diversify their markets, and SUSTA is here to help them achieve those goals."


Companies are now invited to apply for funding and other assistance available from SUSTA for the coming year. Learn more about SUSTA and access Branded application materials online at www.susta.org.


SUSTA is a non-profit trade development association comprised of the Departments of Agriculture of the 15 southern states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Since 1973, its programs and services have assisted exporters of high-value food and agricultural products. SUSTA is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), its member states and private companies.


SOURCE Southern U.S. Trade Association