Two Food Importers Leaving U.S. Market

By Kristin Donnelly Posted February 22, 2008

I met up with Craig Lieberman last week, a former F&W Tastemaker Award Winner and founder of 34 Degrees—a food importing company–turned–producer. Until recently, Craig brought fantastic foods, like a luscious marinated feta cheese and fresh fruity olive oils, to the U.S. from Australia and New Zealand, but now, he’s phasing out his entire portfolio and instead focusing on a line he calls 34 Degrees Crispbreads—incredibly thin, wonderfully textured crackers—produced in Colorado. Why? Craig said he could no longer justify the ecological impact of his business. Oh, and with the pesky devaluation of the dollar, it just became too expensive to sell imports, even from Australia where the U.S. dollar was once strong. Soon after Craig returned to Colorado, he emailed to let me know that Prince Charles’s organic brand of foods, Duchy Originals, will also stop exporting to the U.S. (though they may start producing products here, like Craig) to reduce its carbon footprint. Or is ecological stewardship merely a cloak for another scary issue: The U.S. is no longer a viable market for international food and wine producers. Call me an alarmist, but I’m stocking up on all the Beaujolais and RJ’s licorice I can before it’s too late.

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