US Northwest potato industry representatives have deemed their recent trade mission to South East Asia a success.
The trade mission saw representatives from the Oregon Potato Commission and the Washington State Potato Commission visit the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar, led by Oregon Department of Agriculture director Katy Koba and Washington State Department of Agriculture director Bud Hover.
The 10-day tour left on the 28 October and included promotions at stores in Vietnams’ Ho Chi Minh City, as well as cooking demonstrations in the Phillipines, with hopes an increase in demand will see import tariffs lowered in both countries.
“As the Philippines is already a major trading partner with both of the visiting US states, and recently granted market access for US fresh table stock potatoes, this trade missions represents an ideal opportunity to strengthen the bilateral trade relationship,” stated in the US Embassy in Manila in a press release. The US is the number one supplier of agricultural products to the Philippines, reaching US$2.7bn in sales in 2013, according to the Embassy.
Market access for fresh potato imports from the US into the Phillipines opened last year, but competition from the world’s biggest potato producer, China, has meant US companies need to take a different approach. The two states are targeting high-end consumers as well as restaurants in the Philippines, with Oregon chef Eric Benson on the tour to demonstrate how to cook different varieties of Northwest potatoes.
"The difference in quality between our potato compared to the Chinese potato is so apparent,” Joe Bippert, Washington Department of Agriculture’s international marketing manager, told Capital Press. “Our hope is the importers will see the value of having these varieties in the market and work with us on the price.
“There’s huge potential for growth in that market," Bippert said.