VSUinUSA: The number one thing to know about exporting to the U.S

Want to export to the U.S? We took five food and drink entrepreneurs from the UK on a week-long trade mission to Chicago and Minneapolis where they received intensive coaching sessions from UKTI, PWC, UPS and experienced American entrepreneurs.

We asked them for the number one thing they learnt about exporting to the U.S. on the trip.

(This was a trip for the winners of the Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur Festival 2015 and was part of a mission to crack the U.S. market with each entrepreneur winning the opportunity to pitch to huge U.S retailer, Target at its Minneapolis HQ.)

Pippa Murray, founder Pip and Nut

Pippa Murray

"For me, the number one thing I learnt was that customs can be a real nightmare and not to underestimate the complications that can occur even if you think you've double-checked everything! To tackle it, it's worth working with a customs broker, even if it does take some margin from you, who'll be able to manage customs for you and help you deliver products in time."

Ian O’Donohue, founder Harry Brompton’s Iced Tea


"Whilst the opportunity is huge don’t underestimate the burden of compliance especially on food and drinks. The U.S. market requires a lot of focus and hard work to get into but there is a great deal of support available for exporters from organisations such as UKTI or businesses specialised in helping get ready for the U.S. market. It’s a pretty well-trodden path and nothing is impossible when you set your mind to it."

Gem Misa, founder Cauli-Rice

Gem Misa

"The U.S. is a very big market, between 5-10 times bigger than the UK depending on the category. So it isn’t enough to have a good product – you need to make sure you have a good logistics plan in place to supply that demand if your product takes off."

Joyce and Raissa De Haas, co-founders Double Dutch

 Raissa and Joyce

Joyce De Haas, co-founder Double Dutch

"The US is a much more complicated market to export directly than other European countries. For example there is a big need for brokers and dealing with direct supply is really not recommended. Regulations about labels, customs, etc. makes it less feasible of supplying directly. I do think this makes it a perfect country for Double Dutch to have an on-trade focus with one exclusive retailer becoming the destination to drink Double Dutch at home."

Raissa De Haas, co-founder Double Dutch

"The number one thing is that I didn't expect is that it is very different to exporting to any other country in Europe. It is far more complicated regarding labeling, FDA requirements, transport, etc. Next to that we have to see each state in the U.S. as basically 50 different countries, with its own regulations, which makes it very difficult to enter the U.S."

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