New Market Developer, March-April 2016

Issue 2: March-April 2016

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In this Issue:

MI Companies Gain Access to World-Class Research at Seminar


On February 9 the International Marketing Program held the “Expanding Your Exports” seminar in Lansing. The seminar was held in conjunction with the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan and focused on opportunities and challenges for export growth for Michigan food and agriculture companies. A total of 33 attendees, including 12 companies and 11 service providers, participated in the seminar and were able to hear from world-class experts in agricultural trade.

The seminar’s featured speaker, Matt Tripodi from Euromonitor International, shared important agriculture trade intelligence with attendees and presented export opportunity analysis reports that are being developed for key Michigan agriculture industries. The seminar also featured Scott Hibbard from Comerica Bank, who discussed export financing and managing export risk, and International Marketing Program Manager, Jamie Zmitko-Somers, who provided an overview of export programs and services.

The seminar keynote lunch speaker was Rob Chandonnet from Star of the West Milling Company, the 2015 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year.

Be sure to stay connected with the International Marketing Program to learn about upcoming export events and activities. If you are interested in learning more about the export opportunity analysis reports that are being developed by Euromonitor International for key Michigan industries, please contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers at 517-284-5738 or, or Allie Fox at 517-284-5737 or 

Attention: MI Food & Agriculture Companies Experiencing International Growth! Apply for Exporter of the Year Award

Applications due by close of business Friday, March 4, 2016

Are you a Michigan food and agriculture company with growth in the global marketplace? If you are, you could be the state’s next “Ag Exporter of the Year.”

Each year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recognizes a leading food and agriculture exporter by presenting a “Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year” award to a deserving state company. The award recognizes outstanding companies for their efforts to increase exports of Michigan food and agriculture products. This honor can bring further success by signaling to international buyers that the company is a qualified and reliable exporter.  Applications are due by close of business on Friday, March 4, 2016.

Companies of all sizes are encouraged to apply. Eligibility is limited to Michigan food and agriculture producers, manufacturers or shippers of good reputation and good standing in the business community, who are aggressively pursuing international markets and increasing export sales. Products must be over 50 percent grown, processed or manufactured in Michigan.

The winner of the “Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year” award is selected by industry representatives on the basis of export growth, innovation, and the pursuit of new export markets.

The 2015 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year honor went to Star of the West Milling Co. of Frankenmuth, MI. Star of the West Milling Co. achieved an impressive growth in export sales from 2013-2014, representing a nearly 27 percent increase in sales for the business. Previous winners include: Continental Dairy, Connor Sports, Graceland Fruit, Cherry Central, Zeeland Farm Service, Walters Gardens, Honee Bear Canning, and Cooperative Elevator Company.

For more information, and an application, go to, or contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers at 517-284-5738.

Success Story: Joshua Tree Skin Care


Participation in international trade shows and multiple Food Export – Midwest Programs and Services, including the Online Product Catalog, has resulted in great success for Brighton, Michigan, based company Joshua Tree Skin Care. Continue reading to learn more about this unique organic skin care company.

“Joshua Tree Skin Care, located in Brighton in the 8th Congressional District, exhibited at the OutDoor Germany Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany July 15-18, 2015. Using Branded Program funding for 50% reimbursement on booth fees and travel costs, two company representatives were able to travel to the show and meet with numerous international buyers.  As a result of exhibiting at this show, a distributor from the United Kingdom placed an opening order of $8,300 in September, 2015. Of this recent experience, David Lawrence, business and operations manager for Joshua Tree Skin Care, stated “this is the first time we’ve had an established distributor in the UK. The Branded Program was the only thing that enabled us the opportunity to exhibit at the show.” (Full Story Here)

Guest Column:

Exports and the New Chinese Food Safety Law

By Bruce Thelen and Fang Liu, Dickinson Wright PLLC

The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act has been the source of much discussion since it was signed into law five years ago. But the U.S. is not the only country that is revamping its food safety laws. China’s new law became effective last October and is widely recognized to be its strictest food safety law yet, with a wider scope, more substantial penalties and a more unified approach to food safety regulation.

The new law in China follows a series of scandals that have heightened the concerns of the Chinese people about the safety of their domestically produced food. One of the most notable occurred in 2008, when many of China’s infant formula producers were found to be using melamine, an industrial chemical commonly found in plastics and glues, to make their milk appear richer in protein, with disastrous results. Several infants died, hundreds of thousands of children developed health problems, perpetrators were prosecuted, and China’s third largest dairy producer wound up declaring bankruptcy. There have been other scandals as well, involving rat meat sold as lamb, juice made from rotten fruit, and recycled cooking oil being sold as fresh cooking oil. All of this has sent Chinese consumers in search of safe foreign food.

While the new law imposes stricter standards, it is intended to ease the path for compliant exporters. Key features of special interest to exporters include:

  China’s food import rules now reflect a shift from supervision and inspection at ports of entry to source control and onsite manufacturer inspection in the country of origin. Parties with exemplary compliance records will be eligible for expedited clearance of their shipments. Parties with histories of compliance problems will face increased inspections and quarantines for products. 

  Chinese importers and overseas exporters and food producers will need to be registered with China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), which is now required to publish lists of overseas exporters, agents, importers and overseas food producers.  

  An upgraded electronic filing system will collect information to support traceability and recall of imported food. On-site audit of overseas producers of infant formula, special medical foods and meat products will be required every three years. Specific traceability is required for the infant formula supply chain, from raw material procurement through final production. Similar requirements are expected for other products.

•  Rapidly expanding online food sales will be subject to the same standards as sales through other channels. Consumers now have a right to seek compensation from online food retailers and producers, as well as from online platforms that do not have real-name identification for its online retailers.

According to the World Trade Organization, China is the world’s third largest food market, just behind the U.S. and the European Union, with imports exceeding $22 billion in the first half of 2015 alone. In fact, China now has the highest annual growth rate for imported food in the world, with dairy, grain and meat ranking in the top five categories. For exporters, China is one market where food “Made in America” has real value. 

Bruce Thelen represents clients in international business transactions throughout the world. Fang Liu is licensed to practice law in both China and Michigan. They can be reached at or 
313-223-3624 or or 734-623-1678.

Connect with us on LinkedIn

Establishing professional relationships and finding new contacts can be one of the most challenging aspects of growing your business and reaching new international markets. Connect with the International Marketing Program at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on LinkedIn today to make this process significantly easier! Joining the group connects you to a network of other companies and industry contacts, and allows you to stay up to date with current events and future export activities. You can participate in conversations with fellow Michigan food growers and processors, ask for advice on export questions, and celebrate your successes by engaging in the group discussions. It is also an easy way to learn about the services offered to Michigan companies.

Click here to join or login to LinkedIn: then search for the group “International Marketing Program at MDARD”.


The 2016 Midwest Buyers Mission is coming to Lansing!

On August 1 over 20 pre-qualified international buyers will travel to Lansing for the first stop of the 2016 Midwest Buyers Mission. This event is a great low-cost opportunity to meet one-on-one with buyers from established and emerging markets that are looking to source Michigan products.

Do not miss this opportunity to meet with international buyers in one location without having to leave Michigan! Register today at:

Early Registration Deadline: June 3, 2016 - $250 

Registration Deadline: June 17, 2016 - $300

For more information please contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers at 517-284-5738 or Buyer profiles will be available soon!

Food Service Buyers Mission at the NRA Show

Interested in meeting with international buyers at the largest food service and hospitality trade show in the Western Hemisphere? Register for Food Export's Food Service Buyers Mission at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago, IL, May 21-23, 2016! 

Early Registration Deadline: March 23, 2016 - $150
Registration Deadline: April 8, 2016 - $225

For more information visit: or contact Jamie Zmitko-Somers at 517-284-5738 or

Upcoming Events

Webinar "The Outlook for U.S. Food & Ag Exports - 2016 and Beyond"
March 23 | 3:00-4:00 PM EST 

Caribbean & Central American Buyers Mission for Retail & Food Service 
June 15-16, 2016 | Miami, FL
Registration Closes May 3

Sweets and Snacks Buyers Mission at the 2016 Sweets and Snacks Expo
May 23-25, 2016 | Chicago, IL
Registration Closes April 8

Focused Trade Mission to China for Food Service Products
August 8-12, 2016 | Shanghai & Shenzhen, China
Registration Closes May 23

Food Show PLUS! at Feria Alimentaria Guatemala 
September 4-7, 2016 l Guatemala City, Guatemala
Registration Closes June 12

Focused Trade Mission to Canada for Specialty and Natural Products
September 7-8, 2016 | Toronto, Canada
Registration Closes June 15 

Welcome Mitch!


The International Marketing Program is excited to welcome our newest intern Mitchell Roberts to the team. Mitchell is currently a senior at Michigan State University with a major in International Relations and a minor in Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy and an additional minor in Natural Resource Recreation Management. He recently interned for the U.S. Forest Service International Programs in Washington D.C., and has participated in multiple scholarship and study abroad programs throughout his academic career. Mitchell will work with the current intern Elizabeth Frey to assist Michigan food and agricultural companies who are interested in exporting and utilizing Food Export programs to increase international sales.

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Jamie Zmitko-Somers



Allie Fox