Teaming Up to Promote Potatoes

Teaming Up to Promote Potatoes

Teaming Up to Promote Potatoes. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

The potato commissions and state agriculture directors from Oregon and Washington have returned from southeast Asia with encouragement and hopes for increased trade. Pacific Northwest potatoes have great potential in Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macao, the three stops of a bi-state trade mission that included Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba and her Washington counterpart Dan Newhouse.

COBA: You get a lot more bang for your buck when you have two states combining efforts with the expertise, especially in a market that doesn't know the difference between Oregon and Washington.
Director Coba says this exploratory trade mission, paid for by federal specialty crop grant dollars, can be a model for other fruits and vegetables that are grown in both states. Assistant Director Dalton Hobbs, also part of the delegation, says there is great strategic value in targeting this part of the world.

HOBBS: Half of the population lives within a five hour plane ride. So it is clearly an area of market influence and market dominance, and with half of the world's population within its trading area, it's an area we need to pay very, very close attention to.
Specifically, Vietnam, with its 70 million people, is a promising market still 5 to 10 years away from serious commercial trade with the Northwest for selected items. Singapore is a huge regional trade hub, as is Hong Kong. Macao is China's gambling center and the food service industry could be a significant buyer for Oregon and Washington potatoes now, other food commodities later.

HOBBS: We see a very young population base with large numbers and percentage of the population under 25. They will be looking for better quality and enhanced products that will come from the United States. So this is the right place at the right time.
Hobbs says despite the predominantly rice-based diet of Southeast Asia, potatoes are not something totally new to consumers in that area of the world.

HOBBS: The potato is ubiquitous in SE Asian cuisine. It shows up in stews and stir fries and so on. So it's actually quite well understood. It's not a mystery product. It's a product that culturally fits in well.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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