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Opening New Markets – And Measuring the Results


Big Picture Report: February 2024
Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, SUSTA

Our 2024 program year is underway. While February is the shortest month of the year, it is shaping up to be a busy one. As I write this, Fruit Logistica in Germany has just wrapped up, and soon the Gulfood show in Dubai will be under way. These are two marquee events each year in two top regions, Europe and the Middle East.

However, I wanted to share some more exciting news. We just submitted our strategy and proposal for USDA’s new export marketing program, the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). USDA unveiled RAPP last fall with a deadline early this month. We will be able to share more updates in the second half of the year.

In addition to maintaining exports into proven markets, building new markets is also a top priority, and that is where RAPP will be put to use. Our strategy is to help our Southern U.S. companies diversify into new growth markets. Specifically, the emphasis of RAPP is Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia. These are all regions where SUSTA companies have seen success in recent years, and this new program will help support continued growth.

Also, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone how important our activity surveys are. The information we receive from these evaluations is critically important.

Allow me to go over the process. For Global Events, at the end of each activity you’re asked to fill out a survey to help us evaluate the activity. We ask questions like, how many new products you introduced, what category do they fall in, and how did SUSTA and our State Departments of Agriculture do in planning and managing the activity.

We also want to know how many contacts you made and how many you consider to be quality contacts, and your rating of the activity overall. These are benchmarks of the quality of the event that helps us determine if it is a good fit for our participants and SUSTA’s overall strategy.

Then, six months after an event you’ll receive a follow-up survey about the sales you made as a result of participating in a SUSTA activity. These follow-up surveys are crucial to determining the return on investment of our program budgets. For those of you who participated in Global Events activities in the second half of 2023, please be sure to complete our six month follow up survey when it comes. If you’ve already done so, thank you very much. If you haven’t replied to a follow-up survey from an activity earlier in 2023, please do so – it’s not to late.

These surveys are where SUSTA gets the final sales volumes to report back to USDA to measure the impact of trade promotion investments. According to USDA, analysis has shown that for every $1 invested in export market development across all products and commodities, exports are increased by $24.50, a return that makes investments like RAPP focused on new growth markets worthwhile.

For those of you in the 50% CostShare program, there is one year-end survey. Those have gone out and, again, we ask you to please complete them.

As the saying goes, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure” and SUSTA is here for the sole purpose of helping improve your export marketing!