September 13, 2023
February 22, 2024
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Overview of the US Food and Beverage Market and How To Enter It (2023)

The US ranks as one of the wealthiest nations in the world and is a food innovator’s dream destination. The market is brimming with opportunities, but it can also be challenging for new entrants. This article is a ready reckoner for F&B brands, manufacturers, and importers looking to expand within the US.

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Welcome to the heart of the global economy – the United States. The US ranks as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, flaunting impressive purchasing power. With a diverse multicultural population and eclectic tastes, the country is a food innovator’s dream destination. Consumer openness to new F&B products means this is a market brimming with opportunities, but it can also be challenging for new entrants.

This article is a ready reckoner for brands, manufacturers, and importers looking to ease their US food and beverage market entry. It offers a wealth of insights from GourmetPro experts to help you navigate the US market and grow your business in the country.


Overview Of The US Food And Beverage Industry

The US Economy

The US is by far the largest economy in the world, with a GDP of US$25.5 trillion in 2022. Per capita GDP was US$76,399, ranking it among the 10 richest countries globally and indicating a relatively high purchasing power. The population of the US is 333.3 million with an almost even split between men and women.

Food processing is among the largest industries in the country, with agriculture, food, and related industries contributing around 5% to the national GDP, according to USDA data.

A Research and Markets report indicates that the US packaged food market was worth US$1 trillion in 2022, and is projected to reach US$1.6 trillion by 2030. In addition to packaged food and drink, the food industry also spans the food service industry and various allied services.

The US also boasts a sophisticated retail landscape that includes a mix of traditional brick-and-mortar stores, digital stores, and hybrid models. Large retail chains coexist with small businesses, and consumers have a wide range of choices in terms of shopping experiences.

Consumer overview

American consumers have diverse tastes and preferences and show significant willingness to engage and experiment with new F&B products. There is a strong demand for domestic products, but also a growing interest in international food and beverage offerings. This is driven by a multicultural population and growing exposure to unique and global flavors.

The food and beverage market in the US is being shaped by several consumer-driven trends. The key trends are broadly health and wellness, sustainability, and technology. Innovative and unique products will thrive in this market as consumers seek out novel food and beverage experiences.

Check out some of the groundbreaking food and beverage innovation trends for 2024 as highlighted by our experts. These will redefine how we produce, consume, and think about our food. Connect with us to learn more about how these trends are shaping the US market.

Consumer openness and a business friendly environment makes the US the place to be for domestic and imported F&B brands.

Get To Know The Evolving US Consumer

The American consumer landscape is a fascinating blend of diversity, encompassing various age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and income levels. A variety of needs and motivations drive the food choices of each of these consumer demographics. Health and convenience are common threads even though they mean slightly different things to each group.

US consumers are savvy shoppers, choosing an omni-channel approach that integrates physical and digital avenues to satisfy their shopping requirements. In the wake of the global pandemic, however, online shopping has seen an uptick across all age groups.

Key factors influencing consumer behavior include the following:

  • Quality
  • Affordability
  • Convenience
  • Unwavering brand loyalty
  • Eco-consciousness
  • Commitment to social causes

But the pandemic and prevailing economic conditions have also resulted in slight shifts in these purchasing trends. Value centricity has become top-of-mind. In addition, many American consumers have shown a strong willingness to try out new brands and stick with them.

Adapting to these evolving shopping behaviors of the US consumer is paramount for industry executives looking to thrive in the post-pandemic era.

Grasp The Retail Landscape of The USA

The US is a vibrant heartland for the food and beverage sector, characterized by its dynamism and innovation. Every year, this expansive market sees the introduction of over 30,000 new products. But the US retail landscape is a crowded and competitive place. This makes it hard for F&B brands to know which grocers to target to reach the right consumer.

It’s impossible to grasp the entire grocery retail landscape of the US alone. This is why we’ve made this easier for you with curated insights and trends shared by our team of local F&B experts.

  • Specialty food stores target consumers looking for artisanal, high-quality selections, while convenience stores serve the need for quick, on-the-go purchases.
  • There are also ethnic and international markets, underlining the country’s multiculturalism.
  • Certain retail store types are redefining value. Warehouse clubs thrive on bulk purchases, while discount grocers such as Aldi and Lidl emphasize premium quality at wallet-friendly prices.
Warehouse clubs cater to bulk grocery purchases. | Photo: Unsplash
  • The growing focus on health and wellness has propelled stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market into the limelight.
  • And let’s not forget that online retailers are also completely reshaping the way consumers approach grocery shopping, with digital innovations like "dark stores" and AI-driven shopping experiences.
  • Supermarkets continue to be central to the American shopping experience, offering a broad array of products.

Our team of US experts have narrowed down a list of the top supermarket chains that will do wonders to unlock growth for your product in the US market.

Understand Distribution In The USA

Once you have an idea of the channels you want to target, it’s time to figure out how to get them to stock your product. If you have an interesting product, especially if it has been proven in other markets, directly approaching smaller stores or specialist stores can be effective.

However, to hit high volumes, distributors can play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between producers and consumers. They not only transport goods but also shape demand, help in marketing, and provide credit facilities, among other services. Partnering with the right distributor can help brands gain access to new distribution channels so as to break into new markets with confidence.

Different types of distributors cater to different needs:

  • Full-line distributors can be a one-stop shop
  • Specialty distributors focus on specific product categories and niche markets
  • Cash-and-carry distributors deal in bulk goods
  • Broadline distributors work with large-scale food-service operations

Picking the perfect distributor for your food product play a vital role in broadening your market reach and nurturing your business growth. With the help of our experts, we’ve collated a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right food distributor to grow in the US market.

There are thousands of distributors in the US, ranging from small, specialized players to large, national corporations. The industry is constantly evolving with new entrants, mergers, and acquisitions. Our list of the top 16 food distributors in the US can be a starting point to help with your US food and beverage market entry.

Know Your Regulations

Import Regulations

The US is undoubtedly an exciting market to tap into but it requires a keen understanding of import regulations before embarking on this growth journey. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversee the bulk of regulations pertaining to food and drink imports into the country. A number of other agencies also have unique standards for different imported foods – such as fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat, and seafood – to ensure quality and safety.

Our expert guide of import regulations can help you meet the high standards of the US while importing food and drink products. It touches upon the notices and permits that need to be filed with various agencies, documentation, and resources needed to reach the market seamlessly and stay on top of the changing regulations.

Labeling Regulations

Food labeling is another area of compliance for all food and beverage launches in the US, not just imports. The FDA mandates that certain information be displayed on pack and it is vital not to miss these. We’ve put together a snapshot of the labeling requirements for the US, which include the common name of the food, net quantity, ingredient list, nutritional information, and details of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor. Regulations differ by product and some products might be exempt from certain requirements, so it’s important to stay up to date.

Fully understand the US food labelling regulations before market entry. | Photo: Garret Owen

Other Regulations To Know

There are a number of other requirements that food and beverage manufacturers need to comply with to sell their products in the US. Regulations may differ by state , so it is vital to be cognizant of the separate laws for the states you wish to operate in. There are also a number of consumer and industry associations that protect the interests of different groups. Compliance with these myriad laws is important to ensure that the food is healthy and safe for consumption.

Get Ready For Your US Market Entry

For F&B brands seeking to make their mark in the dynamic US food and beverage market, GourmetPro’s specialists can provide you with invaluable insights to grow your business. Our seasoned professionals can support your needs at every step of the way, from innovation opportunities to understanding various regulatory issues.

Connect with our elite experts for all of your US market entry needs.

Commonly Asked Queries on the US Food and Beverage Industry

What is the size of the US food and beverage industry?

The food and beverage industry is one of the largest industries in the US. Packaged food and drink was estimated to be worth over US$1 trillion in 2022. A diverse population and openness to new products makes the US one of the most exciting markets for food and drink brands.

What are the main trends in the US food and beverage industry?

In the US food and beverage industry, there is a growing emphasis on health and wellness, with consumers seeking healthier options and transparency in labeling. Sustainability is also paramount, with a focus on eco-friendly practices, packaging, and sourcing. Additionally, technology-driven processes that aid product innovation and scaling up production continue to shape the industry's landscape. These trends reflect evolving consumer preferences and the industry's response to them.

What are the major channels of distribution for food and beverage in the US?

There are numerous channels of distribution for F&B in the US, each with its distinct set of opportunities and challenges. The top channels have traditionally been supermarkets, convenience stores, warehouse clubs, discount grocers, and specialty food stores. More recently, online grocery retailers have seen significant growth due to the convenience they offer. In addition, products are also available through gas stations, pharmacies, sports clubs and stores, bookstores, food service outlets, and more.

For F&B brands eager to penetrate the US market, it is vital to understand the different steps for entry. GourmetPro’s experts can help you in crafting an effective market entry and growth strategy in each step of the journey.

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