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USMEF's Branded Products Promotion Program funds available for U.S. industry

U.S. red meat companies taking advantage of the USDA's Branded Products Promotion Program--administered through USMEF--rang up $6,920,063 in sales of U.S. beef and pork to international buyers in fiscal year 2008, an increase of nearly 27 percent over the previous year.

The Branded Products Promotion Program has had noteworthy success in helping smaller companies gain entry to targeted export markets and establish their branded products. These companies use their own money, leveraged with matching funds from the program, to develop export markets for U.S. beef, pork or lamb exports. The companies involved in this year's program are exporting pork and beef to markets that include Mexico, Japan and Europe.

"U.S. companies are proud of their American products and they know that brands can add value, build customer loyalty and play an increasing role in export expansion in the 21st century," said Barbara Watson, USMEF manager, branded programs.

There are still funds available in the program for the current year to can help small U.S. companies attend international and approved domestic shows with large international attendance and assist with international travel costs. Two of the companies participating in the program in 2008 were new to exporting. One company's activities included product demonstrations in Mexico while another company's activities involved a chef seminar in Germany.

As a requirement of the USDA Branded Products Promotion Program, all participants must set measurable performance goals based on export sales to targeted markets. The companies also must report on the number of business contacts made at trade shows and sales of new products launched with USDA Market Access Program funds. This information is measured against goals that are set by the individual companies when their applications for funding are submitted.

Branded funds can be used to offset costs of point-of-sale materials used in connection with an international promotion or trade show, and help pay for costs of international retail promotions, including fees for chefs, costumes, signs, displays and demonstration staff. Branded funds can also be used to help cover the cost of international seminars, including interpreters, seminar materials, set-up costs, room rental, and production and translation of educational materials, such as company brochures and product sheets. Branded products travel funds can only be used to attend international trade shows and promotions. Promotions funded under this program must take place before Dec. 31. Applications will be accepted as long as funds are available.

The branded program is a small part of the larger coordinated USMEF effort that includes generic funding from USDA's Market Access and Foreign Market Development programs, private industry funds and funding from the beef, pork, corn and soybean checkoffs to promote foreign sales of U.S. red meats.

For the purposes of this application, eligible companies must have 500 or fewer employees, or be a producer cooperative or association. Companies that receive funding from USMEF will be charged a 5 percent administrative fee for participation in the program. This fee is calculated at 5 percent of USMEF's contribution to the activities covered. USMEF also requires a $100 application fee to accompany the company's request for funding, which will be applied toward the 5 percent administrative fee.

Companies interested in the program should contact Barbara Watson at USMEF's Denver office for guidelines and proposal format. The address is:

Barbara Watson

USMEF Manager, Branded Programs

U.S. Meat Export Federation

1855 Blake St., Suite 200

Denver, CO 80202

Tel: 303-623-6328

E-mail: bwatson@usmef.org

Information on the program and on exporting is also available at USMEF's website www.usmef.org under "Business Tools."

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