Czech food exporters seek firmer foothold on US market
Czech Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka is heading a delegation of Czech businessmen to the United States where Czech food producers are hoping to find a market for some of their select products. Among the companies represented are leading producers of beer and spirits as well as meat and dairy products.
“The business leaders who are accompanying me on this trip represent our leading export commodities – from milk and dairy producers, through beer and spirits to cereals and organic food. The aim of this trip is to find new business partners and broaden our scope here. I think there is potentially a bigger market for Czech beer and possibly also for dairy and meat products. “
The director of the Czech association of meat producers Jan Katina says that while the competition is enormous Czech producers do stand a chance with high-quality select goods that the Czech Republic is known for.
For the representatives of 11 leading Czech firms this will be something of a fact-gathering mission to see which of their products would possibly generate an interest and what the competition is offering US retailers. They will also need to inform themselves about some of the hurdles on the road in the form of licenses, labelling and food norms.
One of the seasoned businessmen on this trip, Zdeněk Chromý who represents the Rudolf Jelinek spirits producer, says that the competition on the US market is tough even with a famous trademark name. Jelinek has been selling alcoholic beverages to the US for 15 years now.
“Today we have a good distribution network and sell in more than 30 states. New York, New Jersey, Chicago, California … We export a million dollars’ worth of alcoholic beverages a year, but I can tell you that the competition is extremely tough and we fight to place every bottle. It looks like it is one big market but it is really 49 markets each of which has its specifics and in each of which you have to find a distributor, visit restaurants and sales outlets and do a lot of PR to the support the product as best as you can.”
No significant deals are expected at this stage and the business mission is one of many being undertaken to try and make up for the loss of Russian markets in the wake of EU sanctions which many fear will create a glut of food products in Europe. With over 90 percent of Czech food exports heading for EU member states Czech food producers have reason for concern and have been pushing strongly for diversification.