Preparing fruits and vegetables for shipment abroad is a highly-regulated industry that requires adherence to specific procedures. Exporters must pay special attention to details related to the viability of targeted export markets; calculating pricing; securing export financing; preparing export documentation; shipping and insuring produce; complying with government regulations; and understanding tax ramifications and tariffs. Conduct thorough market research before entering export markets.
Learn about the U.S. export industry. There are a number of reports and articles available from government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provide statistical information and reveal export market trends for the fruits and vegetables market. For instance, in the USDA article "The Role of Exports in the U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Industry," the authors note that the rise in produce inventory and reduction of trade barriers helped to expand U.S. fruits and vegetables exports in the 1990s.
Hire experts. Full-service international freight forwarders are experts in shipping logistics and can coordinate air, ocean and land transportation carriers, as well as handle paperwork and insurance arrangements. International trade attorneys negotiate and draft contracts and provide counsel on export certification requirements for fruits and vegetables and can provide insights on the impact of applicable multilateral tariff agreements such as General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on transactions to particular export markets.
Understand financing options. Find a bank with strong trade capabilities to learn about loan financing options. There are also small business programs available through the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Eximbank) and the Foreign Credit Insurance Association (FCIA). Eximbank has export trading programs specifically geared toward small exporters. The FCIA offers trade credit and political risk insurance to exporters.
Learn about the variables associated with properly pricing produce for foreign markets before setting prices. Currency fluctuations make pricing for export markets a more volatile endeavor than pricing for domestic markets. Costs associated with import duties, export documentation and insurance also create price escalation in exporting that impact export pricing and quotations.
Nonvessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) specialize in assisting small exporters who seek to export less-than-container-load (LCL) freights.
The International Trade Administration offers country-specific information on the commercial and economic climate of countries for prospective exporters.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.
- "Exporting from Start to Finance"; L. Fargo Wells and Karin B. Dulat; 1995
- USDA:The Role of Exports in the U.S. Fruits and Vegetable Industry
- Eximbank: Small Business Global Access
- International Trade Administration: Home
- "A Basic Guide to Exporting"; Jason Katzman; 2011
Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications such as the "Chicago Tribune" and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.