With its rapidly developing economy and expanding middle class, Turkey has become an important market for U.S. food and agricultural products over the past decade. It’s also the destination of the next USDA agricultural trade mission from June 10-14 as Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation to promote U.S. agricultural exports.
Representatives from six state departments of agriculture and 20 U.S. companies will attend. During the mission, the delegation will travel to Istanbul and Ankara to learn about market conditions and regulations to help U.S. companies develop export strategies for Turkey. They’ll visit retail locations and tour various facilities including a U.S. hardwood importer.
U.S. forestry exports to Turkey help support the country’s furniture production sector. In fiscal year 2012, these exports increased a staggering 80 percent compared to the previous year – a demonstrated example of the potential for U.S. forestry companies in the Turkish market.
The Foreign Agricultural Service offers market development programs that help U.S. companies take advantage of new opportunities such as the growing forestry exports to Turkey. Through the Market Access Program, FAS partners with the agriculture industry to help finance overseas marketing and promotional activities for U.S. agricultural exporters.
One example of a company that’s benefited from FAS programs is Wheeland Lumber Company, Inc., a hardwood mill in Liberty, Penn. The company was interested in exporting and joined the MAP-funded American Hardwood Export Council pavilion at the 2011 Intermob trade show in Turkey. The company generated successful sales to Turkey during the event and since then, its sales to the country have more than tripled.
Wheeland Lumber has also participated in trade shows in Dubai, China and Vietnam with the help of MAP-funding and other industry organizations including the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council, which has a representative attending the Turkey trade mission. Wheeland’s growth in export sales helped offset stagnant domestic sales and also sustained jobs at the hardwood mill, said Ray Wheeland, the company’s president.
“With the help of the export sales growth we were able to maintain our current employee base and felt confident to move ahead with a major mill upgrade,” he said. “We believe participation in USDA-endorsed trade shows helped us enter into new markets and make face-to-face contacts we may not have been able to do on our own due to cost constraints. Additionally, the shows help companies gain credibility and visibility, which is critical when trying to break into a new market.”
The trade mission to Turkey will foster similar success stories for U.S. companies in the future. By leading trade missions, USDA continues to help achieve the National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2015. Increasing exports also helps support and create American jobs as it’s already done for Wheeland Lumber.