Opportunities to Improve U.S. Food/Agricultural Exports Through Improved Marketing Techniques

T-RCED-88-56: Published: Jun 28, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1988.

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GAO reviewed public and private marketing mechanisms to enhance opportunities for the United States to improve its food and agricultural sales in foreign markets. GAO found that U.S. exporters needed to: (1) develop effective, long-term marketing strategies; (2) design positive product images; (3) improve distribution systems; (4) develop competitive pricing and credit policies; and (5) conduct promotional activities in targeted markets. GAO also found that an explicit U.S. food and agricultural marketing strategy has not evolved because: (1) U.S. farm policy has historically encouraged production over marketing; (2) many U.S. firms believe that the U.S. market is large enough to accept all of their products; (3) most domestic U.S. high-value product exporters lack the interest and experience to compete successfully with foreign traders; and (4) many small and mid-size firms do not market their products abroad. In addition, GAO found that: (1) many foreign competitors use strategic marketing practices to target and capture market shares; and (2) although the federal government and states have made progress in assisting private industry in promoting agricultural exports, public and private officials need to pool their resources in developing new ideas and effectively applying strategic marketing principles in the world marketplace.

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