(Posted Fri. Sep 16th, 2016)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Asian Trade Mission completed meetings in Hong Kong last Friday that explored the many opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in the region.
National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team member Janna Fritz, who farms in Michigan, and Communications Manager Cathryn Wojcicki participated in three days of intensive briefings, meetings and exploratory visits designed to gain a better understanding of both the market in Hong Kong and the possibilities this regional trade hub offers.
“While Hong Kong may not come to mind as an obvious market for U.S. commodity corn, it certainly holds excellent potential for exporting a wide variety of products produced with ingredients made from U.S. corn,” said Fritz. “From their desire for increased food safety to their need for environmentally-friendly fuel options, Hong Kong’s growing economy and regional importance offer great opportunities for U.S. corn farmers.”
Thursday morning, the delegation participated in a roundtable discussion led by Deputy Under Secretary (DUS) for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services Alexis Taylor. Discussions helped participants share how their particular commodity fit into the existing market in Hong Kong and share ideas for growing the presence of U.S. agricultural products in the region.
Activities also included a tour of Asia’s Fruit Logistica Trade Show, which featured 600 international exhibitors, and a tour of the Modern Terminal at Hong Kong Port. This port, one of the busiest in the world, offers such high-efficiency service that trucks dropping off or loading cargo have an average gate-to-gate time of 46 minutes and a medium container ship can be off- and reloaded in approximately ten hours.
The group concluded this leg of their mission on Friday with visits to the Wan Chai Wet Market, an indoor market and a modern market to see the ways in which Hong Kong’s seven million residents purchase foods. While the fresh offerings were abundant and diverse, many in the region increasingly purchase prepackaged foods and eat at restaurants almost daily. These trends result in large part from the city’s urban density and, thus, lack of space for cooking and proper in-home food storage. These dynamics, along with the strong shipping system, provide a variety of options for American agribusiness and the farmers and ranchers supplying it.
Finally, the group traveled to Holy Trinity College, a high school for young women in Kwonloon, for an event hosted by The Women’s Foundation. Both DUS Taylor and Michigan Director of Agriculture and Rural Development Jamie Clover shared their experiences as women in leadership and encouraged the students to consider the variety of careers available in the broader agricultural industry. After short presentations, the students asked DUS Taylor and Director Clover a series of insightful questions that delved into many aspects of both leadership and agriculture. The topics chosen indicated that, even in their teenage years, the students had a keen interest in food production, particularly in regard to sustainability and the safety of GMOs.
Mission participants come from across the United States and represent a range of agricultural products and commodities. Led by DUS Taylor, the delegation includes leaders from seven state departments of agriculture and 22 U.S. agribusinesses and organizations as well as NCGA’s representation. Mission participants come from across the United States and represent a range of agricultural products and commodities.
This mission extends activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Women in Agriculture initiative into foreign markets while working to grow export opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers.