Agricultural Trade Missions Create Opportunities for U.S. Businesses

By organizing and executing agricultural trade missions, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is helping U.S. exports thrive around the world.  

In 2011 alone, USDA led 57 U.S. agribusinesses on missions to Peru, Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia and Panama with recorded, on-the-spot sales of U.S. food and agricultural products reaching $10.8 million. Sales are expected to grow exponentially over the next several years as a direct result of the partnerships forged and contacts made during these missions.  

The goal of USDA trade missions is to provide U.S. agricultural businesses with first-hand market information, access to government decision makers and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, distributers and importers so they can position themselves to enter or expand their presence in foreign markets. Often, trade missions correlate with USDA-sponsored international food and trade shows, which was the case this past year during the trade missions to Peru, Indonesia and Vietnam. Trade shows give companies even more opportunities to make business contacts and share their products with potential buyers and consumers. 

A full range of agribusinesses participate in these missions, including large companies with production sites around the United States and the world, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses, some of which are are just beginning to export internationally. The companies who participated in 2011 trade missions represented a variety of products including feed, meat, dairy, poultry, wood and forestry, rice, grain, seafood, fruits and vegetables, consumer-ready products, agricultural equipment and more.  

The countries USDA selects as destinations for trade missions are usually booming or emerging markets where companies can expect to achieve export success. Indonesia, for example, is the United States’ largest agricultural market in Southeast Asia and Vietnam is the fastest-growing market in that region. USDA’s trade mission to Colombia and Panama came just weeks after congressional ratification of free trade agreements with these countries, which will stimulate and increase our bilateral trade immediately upon implementation. 

Beyond the benefits to participating agribusinesses, trade missions allow the USDA representatives leading the missions to meet with government and agricultural officials, and to visit agricultural production sites, markets and grocery stores around the world. 

2012 is shaping up to be another great year for USDA agricultural trade missions. A mission to China is scheduled to take place from March 23-28 in the cities of Chengdu and Shanghai. With this trade mission, participating companies will have access to what is now the United States’ largest market for agricultural products.