WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has joined with ECRM, Warrensville Heights, Ohio, to sponsor an international grocery event designed to facilitate new trading opportunities between U.S. manufacturers and foreign retailers. The planning conference, scheduled for Sept. 19 to 22 in Miami Beach, Fla., will include nearly 70 retail operators from 54 countries, ranging from Brazil and Italy, to Singapore and the United Kingdom, among others. As a co-sponsor, USDA will be responsible for screening distributors and retailers, and assisting manufacturers with guidelines and fee reimbursement procedures because eligible companies could potentially receive up to 50% reimbursement of the conference fees from USDA, according to officials with the business planning, marketing and conference management firm. Among the retailers signed up to date are Tesco, Ahold, Asda/Wal-Mart U.K., Champion, Dairy Farm, China Resource Vanguard and Woolworth's South Africa, the officials said. Categories covered in this event will include dry grocery, snack foods, confectionery, specialty foods, private-label foods and beverages.