The Grocery Manufacturers of America and a coalition of industry groups applauded a congressional request for the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to conduct an in-depth analysis of the barriers facing exports of processed food and beverages around the world.

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, initiated the request.

"Rep. Archer has set into motion a landmark study that will help the processed food and beverage industries identify trade barriers and further develop and refine our trade negotiating objectives," said Mary Sophos, GMA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs.

Prior to this new study the collection and analysis of trade data has focused primarily on commodities, not intermediate or finished products. However, international trade in processed food and beverage is increasing twice as fast as trade in commodities, and it is expected to account for nearly 75 percent of global food and agriculture trade by next year.

GMA and other industry groups say the ITC study on trade barriers will help identify the key markets, products and most effective means for the elimination or substantial reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

"The processed food and beverage industry provides a key export gateway for our farmers and ranchers," said Sophos. "This study by the ITC will help us address the trade problems faced by this sector so that it can continue to play a vital role in our agricultural marketing system."

The coalition of organizations backing the ITC study include; GMA, the American Bakers Association, American Frozen Foods Institute, American Meat Institute, Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers' Association, Independent Bakers Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Food Processors Association, National Soft Drink Association, Pet Food Institute, Snack Food Association, and Sweetener Users Association.

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 42 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.