Five free (or almost free) things produce growers need to develop international markets

by | Apr 23, 2009


Charlotte-based company Argo Century Foods mans a booth at the SIAL Paris international food show in 2007. The company was marketing its "Ton Ton Sauces" to food buyers from around the world.

From local roadside stands to international markets, North Carolina produce and agricultural products are in demand.

Peter Thorton heads up our international marketing office, which helps bridge the gap between international buyers and N.C. suppliers of agricultural commodities, value-added foods and forest products. These international relationships help boost farm prices and income, while supporting jobs both on the farm and off the farm in food processing, storage and transportation.

On the N.C. exports Web site, you’ll find many tools that facilitate international communication. Peter has a Skype ID (NCDA.IM), an AltaVista Babel Fish button that translates the site’s text, and the NC Ag Exports blog with online marketing strategies, upcoming events and general input from North Carolina’s agriculture export community.

Last week, the blog featured an international marketing “primer” post geared toward produce growers, with five ways to develop international relationships. We’ve reprinted them here, but check out his blog for more information.

  • Register with Go South. Canada is your most logical export market. With USDA funding, the Go South program promotes your product in Canada. Even better, they work every day with Canadian produce buyers looking for your products. But they can’t put you in touch with buyers if they don’t know you are out there. Register at and click on “Go South Registration Form.”
  • Sign up for a free Global GAP audit. GoldenLeaf is funding Global GAP audits, a prerequisite for many high end international markets. This is the last year funding will be available, so act now.
  • Contact the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s international marketing by phone (919) 733-7912 or e-mail at They can walk you through the process if you are starting from scratch or want to move from your 36th to your 37th export market.
  • Bookmark and look at our International Marketing Resources Web site. Here, you will find resources including access to international experts, market research for your product in your target market, export training, funding assistance, export requirements and a range of other resources.
  • Attend our Export University event, a world trade day on May 19th at the State Fairgrounds. In one day, you will learn more practical knowledge on how to market and export your product than if you took a college class on it. Learn more about the event here.