After more than two decades of exporting U.S. agricultural products, Good Life Foods is thriving internationally with support from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
Before starting the company, Good Life Foods’ president Emil Font served as a Chinese linguist in the U.S. Air Force and worked in economic development helping a variety of Midwestern manufacturers tap into new overseas markets. Drawing from these experiences, Font branched out and began building his own small, family-run business in Lincoln, Neb. in 1990. Today, the mission of Good Life Foods is to build and promote U.S. food brands internationally. The company works with U.S. confectionary and snack food manufacturers and provides them with international export services.
Good Life Foods has experienced steady growth nearly every year since its inception. It started with just one export market – Malaysia. Today, its top markets include South Korea, Japan, China, and the Philippines.
Because its entire business is focused on exporting U.S. agricultural goods, Good Life Foods has been able to benefit from FAS export programs throughout the years.
“I can honestly and unequivocally state that we could not have gotten our business off the ground without the support of FAS programs, which, I might add, continue to support us to this day,” said Font.
Good Life Foods receives assistance from the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, which is the state and regional trade group (SRTG) that covers Nebraska. The SRTG has helped the company receive FAS Market Access Program (MAP) support to help with international marketing campaigns. Good Life Foods also participates in USDA agricultural trade missions, reverse trade missions, and USDA-endorsed international trade shows. In addition, the company routinely accesses trade data and export guidelines and information on the FAS website.
Additional resources that Good Life Foods has come to depend on are the FAS offices of agricultural affairs (OAAs) and the agricultural trade offices (ATOs) located in cities around the world.
“I make it a point to acquaint myself with the ATO staff wherever I go because they’re generally delightful people and you never know when you’re going to need their help,” said Font. “When the chips are down, they can help you navigate through prickly situations. For an exporter, they’re your ace-in-the-hole.”
With support from FAS, Good Life Foods continues to break into new markets. After participating in the USDA-endorsed Food and Hotel Vietnam trade show in 2009 and again in 2011, Good Life Foods’ sales to Vietnam jumped from zero to $500,000 in less than three years. Currently, the company is looking to enter Middle Eastern markets and attended the USDA-endorsed Gulfood trade show in Dubai in February.
Partnerships like the one between FAS and Good Life Foods have contributed to a worldwide surge in popularity of the American brand of agriculture. Exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion—exceeding the past high by $22.5 billion—and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus stands at a record $42.7 billion.