Industry Report

How to enter the US food market

The U.S. is one of the largest economies and provides ample opportunities. However, the food industry is crowded and introducing new products requires persistence and a thorough strategy. In our detailed report, we show how Swiss SMEs can successfully export food to the USA and what they need to bear in mind.


The U.S. provides access to a $1.77 trillion food industry and 328 million consumers with diverse cultures and appreciation for international foods and new flavors. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. economy is expected to grow further. The median American household income is $60,293 and a third of households make more than $100,000 per year.

Food trends in the U.S.

Major food trends include not only “good-for-you” and healthy products but also sustainable aspects like packaging or fair trade. Plant-based products, including meat and dairy alternatives, are on the rise. Specialty food sales continue to grow due to the consumers preference for premium and all-natural food. Over the last couple of years private label brands have gained traction due to the improved product quality. Moreover, members of Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2015, are entering the market. They care about the experience of food and different food flavors and preparations, but they don’t want artificial ingredients and preservatives in their food.

The three most common food sales channels are foodservice (food-away-from-home), retail (food-at-home) and online. The food retail industry has declined over the last couple of years, whereas the foodservice has been growing. Online sales growth has outpaced retail and foodservice growth and is expected to grow further in the near future. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online trend even more.

The right strategy for the U.S.

Despite the opportunities available, entering the U.S. food market can be daunting and requires senior management’s full commitment, patience and an initial budget, especially for marketing purposes. Before entering the U.S. market, it is highly recommended to explore the market, get to know the competition and understand the relevant food categories. Attending food trade shows and visiting retail stores are good first steps. Understanding the consumer and current food trends will provide further insights and help a Swiss company determine the right product, label, marketing language and channels, distribution channels and pricing.

Swiss companies have different choices when doing business in the U.S. A traditional approach is to find a food importer who takes care of the import customs, storing the product and selling it into distribution. An alternative strategy is to establish a U.S. subsidiary and hire people on the ground. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages and depending on the strategy, one or the other might be more suitable. These two options are not set in stone and hybrid solutions have been applied in the past.

Report with detailed information

Read our report about the U.S. food market. We give you a detailed overview of:

  • U.S. food market
  • Regulatory
  • Opportunities and challenges
  • Logistics and distribution
  • Case studies


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