Governor’s trade mission focuses on Japan joined by ODA Director

Governor’s trade mission focuses on Japan
ODA Director Taylor joins Governor Brown as part of an ag-heavy delegation


October 5, 2017… A one-week trade mission to Asia will have a decided emphasis on Oregon food and agriculture as Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor lead a delegation that will focus its efforts on doing business with Japan, the state’s top export market for agricultural products. Among the delegates are representatives of eight Oregon companies connected to food and agriculture who hope to make a strong impression throughout the week.

“We have invested in Japan for decades and have established strong relationships with Japanese importers and consumers,” says Taylor. “It’s important for our companies on this mission to build on those relationships already made and also make new ones.”

The ag delegation includes some companies experienced in selling into Japan and others who are making their first effort: Willamette Valley Fruit Company of Salem; OFD Foods of Albany; Northwest Hazelnut of Hubbard; Ponzi Vineyards of Sherwood; 2 Towns Cider of Corvallis; Bossco Trading of Tangent; Weaver Seed Processing of Scio, and Pacific Seafood, headquartered in Clackamas.

There will also be a strong presence by Oregon State University and the Portland-based Food Innovation Center.

Director Taylor and two ODA staff members experienced in the international market will provide assistance to all companies making the trip.

“For someone who has been exporting into Japan already, we can introduce them to new buyers or to some new markets in Japan,” says Taylor. “Maybe they have concentrated their efforts in Tokyo but other parts of the country might have interest in their products. For the first time exporter, we will help them learn about the Japanese market, the taste profiles, what the Japanese consumer is looking for from American products, and how you brand and market the product.”

Taylor says ODA’s expertise provides value to those who are part of the trade mission.

“We want to make sure our companies leave Japan having made solid relationships that lead to solid sales.”

The trade mission begins with a one-day stop in Hong Kong, a gateway for trade into Asia, that includes a tour by Governor Brown of Cathay Pacific’s new air cargo facility. Nearly a year ago, Cathay Pacific began direct air cargo flights from Portland to Hong Kong which are key for export of Oregon’s perishable ag products such as fresh cherries, live Dungeness crab, and cut greens. In response to demand during the harvest season, Cathay Pacific added two extra flights each week through the summer.

From Hong Kong, the full agricultural delegation will join the governor in Japan for the balance of the trade mission.

Among the highlights next week will be an Oregon reception in Tokyo with key customers of Oregon food and agricultural products attending, a panel discussion of women in leadership from Japan and the US, and a special “Doing Business in Oregon” seminar targeting Japanese food processing companies that may want to open operations in the state.

Governor Brown and Director Taylor will be part of the women in leadership panel.

“Having led the Women in Agriculture Initiative my last year at USDA, women leadership is near and dear to my heart,” says Taylor. “It’s an exciting time to see women taking on more leadership roles in the US and in Japan. For example. the current mayor of Tokyo is a woman.”

The seminar for food processors gives OSU and the Food Innovation Center a chance to be introduced. OSU’s research chef, Jason Ball, and the FIC’s Sensory Program Manager, Ann Colonna, will demonstrate some of the resources available to Japanese companies interested in operating in Oregon– the same resources available to US companies. Specifically, Colonna will conduct a taste test using four different craft ciders from Oregon. In the past three years, Oregon has gone from having zero craft ciders in the Japanese market to eight brands.

Chef Ball will also showcase several Oregon ingredients– including hazelnuts, blackberries, rockfish, and freeze dried chicken– as part of uniquely created dishes that will be sampled by Japanese attendees.

In Japan, food service is a huge sector. Japanese consumers are increasingly dining out. They also expect top notch quality. That’s why Japanese food buyers are looking for quality ingredients and products from Oregon to sell into restaurants and retail grocery stores.

“The mission is largely focused on food ingredients and beverages, which is exciting because Oregon grows and produces high quality and safe food products,” says Taylor. “Japan is an evolving market looking for the things we excel at growing. With Oregon’s proximity to the Pacific Rim, there continues to be a huge opportunity. We’ve capitalized on that in Japan over the past several years and decades, we want to continue building upon that success now and in the future.”

Rank and title carry a great deal of importance in Japan. Having a governor and a state director of agriculture on the mission helps cement existing relationships and opens some doors to meetings that the accompanying businesses would not get otherwise.

For a state that doesn’t have the population to consume all that it produces, an export market is important. And there hasn’t been an export market any more important than Japan.

“When you look at the numbers, more than $1.5 billion of agricultural goods from Oregon go to Japan every year,” says Taylor. “That’s an amazing number. Think about how many jobs that stimulates in the economy of our state, how much additional economic value that’s bringing to Oregon.”

Maintaining strong relationships in Oregon’s top export market and building new ones is a lot easier done face-to-face. The upcoming governor’s trade mission is the type of event that helps make it possible.

For an audio recap of this story, please go to https://wp.me/p52oQB-mt and scroll down.

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Follow the Governor’s Trade Mission with daily updates on ODA’s newsblog at https://odanews.wpengine.com