LANSING – Having recently returned from the annual meeting of the Tri-National Agriculture Accord – a group of agricultural officials from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that collaborates on agricultural trade and development issues – Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, understands now more than ever that market diversification is critical for any industry, especially agriculture and food production.
“There’s no denying that the North American market is essential for Michigan’s food and agriculture industry,” said Clover Adams. “But, as the saying goes, we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. Michigan must continue to build relationships around the world and take advantage of consumer demand, wherever that may be. And right now, China is one of the hottest markets out there.”
With that understanding, Clover Adams again will be leading a group of Michigan food producers to China next week (Nov. 6-8, 2017)—some new and some returning to finalize agreements or build on previous success. Returning companies include Shoreline Fruit Growers, Inc., Nirvana Tea, Inc., Graceland Fruit, Cherry Marketing Institute, and Cherry Central.
Also part of this group are four newcomers: Scotty O’Hotty, an award-winning hot sauce based in the Detroit area; Herkner Farms, a Traverse City producer of fruit toppings, condiments, jams, preserves, and sauces; King Orchards, Inc., a first-generation grower and producer based in Central Lake, specializing in Montmorency tart cherries and tart cherry juice, as well as Balaton cherries, black sweet cherries, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums and nectarines; and United Hops Brokerage, a Greenville-based broker and processor, connecting brewers with a wide variety of hops growers.
Clover Adams began laying the groundwork for these exporting networks when she and Governor Snyder first traveled to China in September 2012. This is the second trade mission that the director will lead that is specific to Michigan food and agriculture exports. Following the group’s previous mission, seven of the participating companies that responded to a post-mission survey said that they expect to see a total increase of nearly $1 million in exports over the next 6-12 months.
In addition to the China mission, MDARD’s partner Food Export Midwest will be guiding a number of these companies on an extended trip to South Korea (Nov. 8-9), where they will meet with buyers in Seoul.
The International Marketing Program helps Michigan food producers and processors in developing trade opportunities by entering new markets or expanding existing markets to increase international market reach. It is housed within MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division, which offers grants, exporting resources, and business development specialists to food growers and processors throughout the state—as well as to food businesses looking to establish operations in Michigan. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/agexport.
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