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From the Soil of Panama to the Shelves of U.S. Supermarkets. Entering the competitive U.S. retail market from abroad is no easy . task, and doing so with a food-based product makes the process even more difficult. Compliance with product and packaging USAID links 13 small requirements and achieving brand awareness in the world’s largest Agri-businesses with market is challenging for any company, small or large. Despite these challenges, the USAID Panama Trade Capacity Building International Clients. Project enabled small Panamanian businesses to seize an opportunity and compete in the lucrative U.S. market. Five months of training and preparation paid off for the 13 small businesses that received training on market analysis, product guidelines, and packaging requirements. Participants learned brand modification, label design, and export regulations. A wide array of Panamanian products including sauces, tropical fruit beverages, and seasonings were improved to appeal to their target audience; the U.S. gourmet, ethnic, health food, and nutritional supplement markets. This training allowed participants to be ready and able to showcase an array of food products at the 2007 FISPAL Latino trade show and food fair in Miami. This event brought their hard work to fruition with entrepreneurs displaying their products in front of major food distributors. Innovators such as Café Diamante, S.A., developed new branding Sara Troetsch, Manager of Café and packaging, in order to introduce their unique caffeine-free Diamante , proudly demonstrated coffee alternative at the trade show, and received great feedback from potential clients. Rogelio Romero, Owner of Vinoni, S.A., a their unique products at the 2007 fruit based beverage and supplement manufacturer, commented FISPAL Latino Trade Show and that “the project was a rewarding experience that sparked new Food Fair in Miami. ideas and opportunities for him and other participants.” Vinoni is now developing new products for U.S. supermarkets. In all, 41 “With this program we were products were enhanced and 94 international buyer contacts were able to learn product and label developed by participating Panamanian companies. requirements for the U.S. As a result of these successes, the Ministry of Commerce and market…and also identified Industry has picked up on, and is continuing these activities, barriers for our products and utilizing the methodologies developed by USAID, thus ensuring its ways to overcome them.” sustainability, and a bright future for small business development in - Sara Troetsch Panama.