Your partner for market entry and expansion into the U.S. food market.
Welcome and thank you for visiting! We appreciate your interest in learning more about HALO Food Connect. In short, we are an import solutions service provider for the U.S. food market based in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). Our primary focus is to provide strategic sales and importing solutions as well as consulting to international food suppliers interested in launching or expanding their business in the USA. On this site you can learn about our services and experience. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.
Understand the obvious. Prepare for the unexpected.
Success in any new market relies on three critical factors: great products, a well planned strategy, and successful sales execution. We work in partnership with our supply partners to develop a plan for success in all three critical areas.
Category & Market Analysis
Before entering a new market, especially one as large as the U.S., we encourage our supply partners to learn and understand as much as possible before making a decision to enter the market. By first conducting an in-depth market assessment, we can minimize the influence of cognitive bias in the decision making process. Once a decision to move forward has been made, we move to the next phase which includes pursuing a brand management or private label solutions offering.
We can customize our analysis on a particular area of interest, but generally we focus on the following areas:
+ Category overview (size and growth rate)
+ Trends and driving forces
+ Competitive analysis
+ Branded and private label positioning matrix
+ Distribution and sales channels
+ Logistics and supply chain (sea freight, warehousing, domestic transport)
+ Industry cost structure and pricing review
+ Geographic and demographic factors
+ Regulatory environment (FDA, USDA, U.S. Customs)
+ Go-To-Market strategy and tactics
+ Distribution channel identification
+ Key retail sales targets
+ Basic marketing strategy
+ Pricing scenarios
+ Estimated market entry/expansion costs
+ Timeline and action plan
Things aren't always as they appear! This is what we call the Similarity Trap. Despite the many similarities you see, the U.S. market is unique in many ways. Often these similarities can lead to a false sense of confidence about understanding retailer and consumer mindsets. We bridge the cultural gap of understanding to ensure both product development and the sales plan takes these differences into account.
Don't expect what you want to see, but be prepared for what the market expects from you. We will make you aware of the "unexpected" in business practice and culture. The U.S. market will not change for you and this understanding is the first step to adaption.
Creating your story for the market.
Trusting someone to manage your brand is an important decision which cannot be taken lightly. Proper brand management requires careful coordination and communication to ensure proper positioning in the market. We prefer to work in partnership with our suppliers which allows us to learn all we need to know to effectively communicate the brand to the market.
The first step in developing a brand management strategy is do our homework and gather all of the necessary information to make an informed decision.
Working together, we craft a custom market entry plan including analyzing all elements of products, pricing, promotion, and placement.
Products: Through sharing our own experience as well as talking to target consumers, we provide insight into the market to confirm there is acceptance for the product assortment. If revisions are necessary, we have resources within our partner network that can assist with adjusting recipes and/or taste profiles for the U.S. consumer. We later test these revisions to make sure we get it right.
Pricing: We understand the supply chain challenges which must be factored in to develop a realistic pricing model. Once we understand the pricing matrix, we can work to develop a price offering which maximizes profit potential with the right combination of margin and maximum sales impact.
Promotions: Crafting a promotional strategy is often more complicated than it may seem. We work within given budgets to develop a marketing mix which maximizes marketing spend efficiency while realizing sales objectives of both manufacturer and retailer.
Placement: Our market knowledge within multiple sales channels allows us to develop a distribution strategy which maximizes the opportunity for sales volume based on the unique characteristics of the product. Whether it is specialty food shops, warehouse clubs, discounters, or traditional supermarkets, we can develop a strategy to gain placements in the right channels to deliver on the sales objectives.
Adding color to the white label.
Private label continues to grow in the U.S. and we understand the unique challenges associated with rolling out a private label program. As with brand management, ensuring the right products are brought to the right retailer at the right price is of paramount importance.
Private label and national brands have long been locked in a fight for consumer market share. With the recent economic downturn, this struggle has only intensified. Private label growth continues to outpace growth the industry average, but each category has its own unique set of precepts. Private label has typically seen opportunity in offering value, but this dynamic has changed as private label has evolved to include new innovations in product and packaging. Retailers have jumped on this expanded value offering launching multiple tiers of private label including premium and natural/organic ranges.
Due to the growth in private label, retailers are looking for partners who have done their homework and can provide solutions that meet their unique set of needs. Private label is no longer as simple as providing a cheap product in cheap packaging. The market has evolved with a new focus on providing products with differentiated value propositions that give consumers additional options with distinct features, benefits, and price points.
We work with our partners to help them understand the nuances of each category and retail channel to develop an assortment which is market ready. If revisions are necessary, we coordinate with all parties to make sure projects are completed quickly and to the satisfaction of both parties.
Putting resources in motion from A to B.
Once products are ready for shipping, we handle all of the intermediary steps to get the product from the production facility to the end customer. Together with a network of vetted logistics providers our focus is on efficiency, cost savings, and ensuring product safety.
We navigate the supply chain including sea freight, warehousing, and national transportation. Due to the large geographic size of the U.S. multiple warehouses are often required for a national business. We seek to find balance between order lead times, shipping cost, and inventory carrying requirements.
We commit to staying up-to-date with the latest in the ever evolving changes coming down from the FDA, USDA, and Customs and Border Protection. We can also provide insight on obtaining C-TPAT certification should it be warranted.
Below is a basic outline of the product journey from manufacturer to the retail outlet.
Your partner for market entry and expansion into the U.S. food market.
We founded HALO Food Connect with the vision of bringing high quality European food products to the United States. We commit ourselves to operating with honesty and integrity with all of our trading partners while working towards the common goal of offering high quality, innovative items at a reasonable price.
We have experience on both the U.S. import side as well as with European based food manufacturers. We understand the unique challenges European companies face when coming to the U.S., as well as the cultural differences which can further complicate the process. We possess a deep level of understanding and experience across a wide variety of food channels including national and regional supermarkets, discounters, specialty food stores, warehouse clubs, and foodservice. Our experience and network enables us to develop a customized plan to suit your needs.
A native German and founding owner of HALO Food Connect. Lars is a well connected business leader in his industry with strong skills in cultural relationships, international trade and sales & marketing.
After earning his master’s degree in European Business Studies with studies in Germany and Spain Lars joined the sales team of a leading European frozen food manufacturer. In this position he was responsible for several large German national retailers as well as export markets throughout Europe.
In 2004 he initiated their market entry into the USA, moving permanently to Atlanta, GA in 2007. As CEO & President, he was charged with the mission to create, build and lead the North American sales operation. In this role he gained valuable experience in importing, managing people, building a bridge to Europe, and marketing products to the U.S. retail and foodservice market.
He is married with one child and active as a member of the Board of Directors of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States.
Jeff is a well rounded business leader and entrepreneur with a strong background in sales, finance, and logistics.
Upon graduating from the University of Georgia, Jeff began his career as a banking officer with a large Atlanta based bank. He later worked for a one of the world’s premier human resources consulting firms where he simultaneously completed his Master of Business Administration.
In late 2003, he joined an Atlanta based food import company where he led their national retail sales effort. In this role he worked with a broad base of retailers, distributors, brokers, and suppliers from around the world.
In 2007, he joined the U.S. subsidiary of Europe’s largest producer of frozen baked goods as Vice President of Sales for the USA and Canada. In additional to managing both national and regional accounts, he oversaw a strategic marketing initiative which led to the development and launch of a new brand and multiple new products.
Jeff is a founding owner of HALO Food Connect where he works with international and domestic suppliers to develop and execute strategic sales initiatives in the retail and foodservice sectors.
He is married with three daughters and is active in his north Atlanta community.
Two heads are better than one.
We have assembled a network of trusted partners who can provide service and solutions to meet any need which might arise.
During the course of launching or expanding a business in the U.S. it is critical to have a team in place which can quickly be called upon to solve problems and achieve maximum success. Over the past 10 years we have built a network of highly skilled partners within various areas of expertise. Through personal experience we have vetted their capabilities and each has demonstrated high level quality of work and service. We manage this network for our partners, pulling them in as needed and as directed by our supply partners. We coordinate the relationships and bridge the communication gap to ensure successful outcomes.
Our network includes but is not limited to:
+ Regulatory & compliance
+ Accounting and tax
+ Banking and finance
+ Logistics, warehousing & transportation
+ Strategic marketing
+ Creative marketing
+ Market research
+ Product development and testing
One step forward is one step ahead.
Interested in finding our more? We encourage you to give us a call or drop us an email. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you.
… is power
The U.S. food market is a diverse landscape with many opportunities for innovative products from around the world. With market size there is opportunity, but without understanding and a solid strategy it is easy for products to get lost in the abyss. Prior to entering the market, we work with our partners to help them gain understanding and inform themselves prior to launch. Below is a very high level look at the U.S. market.
USA: 50 states
Population: 325 million
Time Zones: 6 zones (4 continental)
The USA landmass is more than double that of the European Union (USA 3,794,100 sq. miles vs. EU 1,707,642 sq. miles). Though one country, U.S. has diverse geographies with many different regions and ethnic groups.
Atlanta: State of Georgia
Population: 5.7 million
Time Zone: ETA (GMT -5)
Atlanta is the “Capital of the South” and boasts having the world’s busiest airport as well as headquarter locations for 13 Fortune 500 companies.
Atlanta has one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States with a total population of more than 5.7 million.
Atlanta is a historic and modern day hub of commerce and its economy ranks 15th largest among world cities and 6th in the United States. With a temperate climate and warm southern hospitality Atlanta is a great place to work, live, and visit.
This channel includes outlets such as traditional supermarkets where consumers purchase food for home consumption. There are a number of sub-categories within this channel including supermarkets, warehouse clubs, supercenters, limited assortment store etc. Distribution can be handled several different ways depending on the product category and the retailer. Sales in this channel are roughly the same as the foodservice channel.
Specialty Food Market
Specialty foods are those that exhibit quality, innovation, and style in their category. These products often have a high perceived value and thus can command a higher retail price. Many imported products fall into this category due to their special and unique nature. Growth in this sector has been very strong over the last several years with sales topping $90 billion. These products can be found across numerous categories in traditional supermarkets and are not necessarily restricted to the international or natural aisle. There is also a vast network of gourmet food shops across the U.S. carrying a wide variety of specialty food items. Logistics are typically handled by specialty distributors.
The foodservice channel in the United States is generally defined as "food which is not prepared at home". Total food sales for the channel have been slowly but steadily growing with revenues of just under $600 billion. The primary outlets in this channel are bars and restaurants, though it also includes hospitals, education, and travel and leisure. The foodservice channel is served almost exclusively by a network of distributors. There are a few national accounts which will buy direct, but this is the exception rather than the rule.