3 Fundamentals of Starting a Food Export Business in Rhode Island

For centuries, trading commodities amongst different communities has been a way of life and a profitable way to source new demand for supply. Consider this: 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the U.S. and middle-income populations are steadily rising in global markets.  As our world becomes increasingly advanced with new technologies, the rate of exporting domestic goods will grow and can support long-term growth for your business.

Exploring the viability of selling food products outside of your local community is a smart step, but you need to make sure you start with the right foundation. While U.S. products are known for high quality, innovation, and safety, making them an appealing choice to global consumers requires due diligence. With expert advice from our own team and our partners at Food Export USA, we explain four fundamental steps to get started with your food export business in Rhode Island.

1.   Gather initial insights for your food exporting business idea

Several factors can halt your food exporting business idea before it even begins. You’ll want to start with an export plan that helps you assess and deeply examine the markets you’re going after to ensure you can surpass any barriers. This includes:

  • Verifying if your food product has any restrictions to entering new markets.
  • Having supporting product research to back up any claims on your food.
  • Confirming there is both market demand and long-term potential for your product.
  • Evaluating if you need any special licenses or certifications.
  • Defining a pricing strategy that makes sense for the market.
  • Ensuring you will have the right resources to manage and maintain orders.

This foundational step in planning for your food export business will help you understand upfront challenges, plan for any competition, manage selling expectations, and ensure you’re fully prepared to step into this big venture. Check out more guidelines for exporting food products from the United States.

2.   Work with local food export business professionals to document your plan

Exporting food requires specific knowledge that doesn’t apply to other types of exports. A helpful resource we recommend is the Food Export-Northeast free online training program just for food exporters called Export Essentials Online. It covers the process from start to finish, including researching markets, pricing, shipping, and ensuring payment. Within its modules are links to many other great resources.

We understand getting started can be overwhelming when it feels like you’re doing it alone. Working with a local professional can jumpstart your food export business. This is where having the experience of a knowledgeable business counselor in the Rhode Island area can help immensely. Aside from the basics like registering your business with the state of Rhode Island, we can help you define a thorough business plan for your food export business.

3.   Put your food export business plan into action

Once you have a solid business plan in place for your food export business, you’ll need initial capital to market your business. These initial startup costs can vary, but STEP is a great resource to get grants and find customers in the global marketplace. As you promote your food export business at trade fairs, buyer-seller meets, or exhibitions, you’ll learn what tactics work best for your business.

Ready to get started? 

It’s helpful to view developing your food export business as a long-term process. While exporting food can be a very profitable path, those who succeed in this business are persistent and patient. Interested in getting started with your food export business idea? The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center employs a dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable staff of business counselors and administrators who can assist you in growing your business. We also work closely with food export partners to support your planning needs. Register now for free, confidential business advice from our advisors here.