Big Picture Report: June 2023
Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, SUSTA
Success stories demonstrate the impact of SUSTA’s programs and are used in several different ways. First and foremost, they are a program requirement. SUSTA must submit success stories to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service every year, educating stakeholders about the impact of FAS programs in supporting U.S. agriculture. A success narrative communicates a specific example of what we have done with our funding and who has been impacted. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Success stories are also shared publicly on our website and social media as a marketing tool. Reading about one company’s international success using SUSTA’s programs is a powerful motivator and might ignite interest in a new SUSTA participant. A statement like this one from Magic Seasoning Blends, LLC will communicate that exporting is possible, even if you are not a huge company: “With 115 employees, our products are on every continent!” This is especially important because we support small and medium-sized businesses who may not have international sales in their business strategy yet and think that export success is out of their reach.
These stories also help guide our participants and set expectations. For instance, companies with decades of exporting history and success, like Puerto Rico’s Vista Farms or Louisiana’s Crown Products, still go to trade shows every year and work hard to maintain relationships. Our participants appreciate learning from their peers about what it takes to develop and maintain export success.
Moreover, these narratives can raise awareness about the breadth of our programs. For instance, Yo Mama’s Foods, based in Florida, promotes their pasta sauces on Amazon.Ca and are among the first search results to appear when browsing for pasta sauce in Canada because of this! The cost of this promotion is eligible for 50% reimbursement through SUSTA’s CostShare program, meaning Yo Mama’s can double their marketing budget.
Success is defined as more than an increase in sales. Some companies attribute new product lines and varieties to their export accounts. For instance, Nature’s Way Farms, from North Carolina, developed an organic line because of the demands from Europe. Other companies share that they hired new employees or expanded production because of export demands.
If you use our programs and services and have a story to share, we would love to hear it. In addition to all of the reasons stated above, success stories make SUSTA staff and stakeholders feel good! We work day in and day out to support our participants, and there is great satisfaction when we hear that the programs – Export Education, Global Events and CostShare - make a difference.