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Spreading Good Taste from the City of Brotherly Love to the Far East
December 15, 2020 Eugene Uhm, Business Development Specialist

Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love, Home of Rocky, Cheese Steaks, The Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, and 76ers. But what a lot of people don’t think about is Ice Cream. Did you know Bassetts “World Famous” Ice Cream, has been a Philadelphia institution since 1861?

Bassetts “World Famous” Ice Cream was founded by Lewis Dubois Bassett. He began making the first batches of ice cream with his mule-turned churn in Salem, NJ. Realizing the potential of his product, Louis begins selling his ice cream in Philadelphia, PA at the Reading Terminal Market. Almost 150 years later, the first export of Bassetts Ice Cream was shipped to China. Today, Bassetts Ice Cream has four retail locations in China and is distributed to numerous restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores. In June 2017, the first retail location of Bassetts Ice Cream opened in South Korea, further expanding their international footprint. Now there are 15 retail locations and counting.

Making the decision to begin exporting was something President Michael Strange had contemplated, but never seriously considered. One conversation at a food expo panel would soon change the total history of the company. Strange was introduced to a Chinese businessperson who was interested in importing American-made consumable products. Several conversations later, Strange shipped samples of Bassetts Ice Cream overseas, not knowing that the distributor had set up a blind test taste against another well-known American Ice Cream manufacturer. Weeks after the blind taste test, Strange was informed his ice cream blew the competition away, and his first export order of nine pallets of ice cream was placed.

Strange had zero experience exporting his products, let alone doing business with a distributor in China. He decided if he was going to continue to export, he would want a long-term plan and not just sit back with his fingers crossed hoping for more export business. For help with his export strategy, Strange turned to the Small Business Administration, the US Commercial Service in Philadelphia, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). These agencies helped Strange negotiate additional long-term deals to export more ice cream to China and reduce the overall risk with an Export Credit Insurance policy from EXIM.

Bassetts Ice Cream has been utilizing an Export Credit Insurance policy from EXIM, and brokered by Meridian Finance Group, for at least 10 years. Alex Bassett Strange, Vice President of Bassetts Ice Cream, is the great-great-great grandson of the founder, Lewis Dubois Bassett, and nephew to President Michael Strange said “We (Bassetts) never filed a claim, yet enjoy the risk mitigation that an export credit insurance policy provides”.

When asking Alex if he had one piece of advice to a small business owner, who is hesitant on exporting he said, “Do not let exporting intimidate you.  It is a worthwhile endeavor and opens up new opportunities for sales and market diversification.  Using EXIM’s products has allowed us to be comfortable extending credit terms to our international customers. In addition to EXIM, there are a ton of resources available to help navigate the exporting processes including the SBA, World Trade Center, and the US Chamber of Commerce.”

By reducing the risk associated with exporting to a foreign buyer, Bassetts Ice Cream has lived up to the name of Bassetts “World Famous” Ice Cream.

If you are interested in learning how to reduce your risk in exporting, take advantage of a free consultation with one of EXIM’s trade finance specialists.

Get a Free Export Finance Consultation Today!