American Food Exporters, LLC – Creve Coeur

American Food Exporters, LLC, Creve Coeur, is solidly grounded in the Midwest, especially its agriculture. As the developing world’s purchasing power, especially that of Asia, continues to grow, so does the newly minted middle class’ interest in the American lifestyle.

white saucer and cup filled with cocoa and marshmallows

Instant hot cocoa mix is just one product popular in China.

Hot cocoa mix with marshmallows, instant oatmeal with lower-sugar maple brown sugar and potato chips may not seem terribly exotic to most Missourians, but they are to many Chinese.

“These countries want snack foods, such as cookies, chips and crackers,” says David Shogren, COO of American Food Exporters, a union of two firms specifically formed to export American foods with a longer shelf life. Traditional Chinese cooking does not emphasize such foods, and it’s easier to start with an easily purchased, easily consumed food that requires no preparation.

Shogren, who has more than 25 years of food industry experience, helps the company analyze and develop innovative sales and marketing programs from a practical, cultural and economic perspective.

But he knew he could learn more, so he enrolled in a series of all-day MO STEP=UP Export Training Program seminars last year. Larry Dill, the MO SBTDC’s International Trade Center director, then visited the company and helped Shogren develop an export plan.

During the process, he says, Dill made him aware of the array of SBTDC International expertise, including the ability to perform research on target markets, help determine the market potential of food products from tortilla chips to baby formula powder in target countries and determine which nations are importing American foodstuffs and how fast demand is growing. Shogren says these tools will help a great deal in terms of identifying the right markets at the right time with the right product mix.

Shogren says his firm is appreciative of the MO STEP=UP program to better leverage the company’s international promotional and travel budget to food trade shows and other events all over the world. Shogren himself does his share of traveling, flying to China about four times a year, among other destinations.

But he says Jakarta, the capital and largest city of Indonesia with a population of around 10 million, is his favorite destination. American Food Exporters sees great potential in that nation, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Columbia, the Dominican Republic and Honduras.

“The people, the culture, are the most diverse of any place I’ve ever been,” he says. “Most Americans don’t realize it, but Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populous nation in the world [the U.S. is third]. Maybe it’s not as rich as China,” says Shogren, “but it has enormous natural resources, a thriving middle class. We see enormous potential.”

Note: The firm is now known as US International Foods.

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