ND Meat Exports Reach Record Highs Thanks to FTAs

ND Meat Exports Reach Record Highs Thanks to FTAs

Posted on March 3, 2022

The US overall saw an increase in red meat exports throughout 2021. A primary reason for the success is the Free Trade Agreements now in practice with Korea, China, and North American partners. The USDA reports that volume and value records in beef and port exports have exceeded $18 billion for the first time.

Preliminary data for 2021 shows a 52% increase in beef exports from 2020 to 2021 from North Dakota ranchers. This totals $64.8 million in sales for 2021, which is well over the $42.4 million reported in 2020. The value of beef increased based on reports from the USDA, as similar tonnage of exports was recorded.

These record increases are attributed to sharply reduced tariffs opening up a larger opportunity for US beef and pork exports. Korea is the top export market for ND beef products, with China and Japan following as the next highest export markets depending on the year. The US has benefitted from the steadily lowering tariff rates, which reduced from 40% to 10% under the US-Korea FTA (KORUS). KORUS entered into force in 2012, and the US will continue to see the staged decreases into 2025 for many products. Korea’s beef consumption has risen steadily over the last decade, and with the reduced tariffs, US beef is getting more shelf space.

Phase One of the US-China Trade Agreement has increased competition, and the value of beef has soared since 2020. Hormone-treated beef can now enter China, which has been one of the increasing factors. There is additional opportunity to export underutilized cuts in the US, such as tongue, tripe, and intestine to China.

Japan has been a steady ND beef importer for the last decade. With the 2019 US-Japan Trade Agreement, wich to effect in January 2020, the US is seeing staged reductions in tariffs for beef, pork, poultry, and other agricultural products. A rise in consumption and a more even playfield are on the horizon for US red meat and other agricultural products.

While many other states saw a rise in pork exports, ND was not one of them. Pork exports from ND appear to have remained steady from 2020 to 2021, around $14.5 million. The US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) also contributed to Mexico’s increase in red meat products in 2021, showing record-high imports for the country. Pork was the primary increase in Mexico, with the USDA reporting a 27% increase in consumption. The consumption of pork has also risen in Central and South American nations, including Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Peru. On the other hand, China has been importing less pork overall, as they continue to recover from the African Swine Fever outbreak in 2018-2019. Seeing increases as China has decreased their pork imports is a promising sight for those in the port industry.

The news of increasing red meat exports from the US has been a bright spot for many in this sector as we come out of another challenging year. Experts also point to continued growth for the red meat markets in 2022, although it will be tempered compared to the surge seen in 2021. NDTO is happy to assist if you are looking opportunities to export livestock in this successful atmosphere.


Member Profile: HC International

Member Profile: HC International

Posted on March 3, 2022

HC International (HCI) is a company truly built on customer service. This two-person operation noticed a performance gap from their peers and grew their own company to export and trade agricultural commodities. Curt Petrich and partner Heather Heley created HCI in 2016 and haven't looked back. Working with the farmers, growers, and buyers, Petrich has always enjoyed agriculture and has made it his career. He continues to work with them all to make the process of buying and selling commodities as seamless as possible. This month, he was more than happy to share his experience in the world of exporting.

When trading commodities, HCI is an expert connector, working with local growers and farmers and making connections for export markets to fulfilling everyone's needs as best they can. Getting into this type of business takes skill, determination, and commitment to the customers, Petrich explains. These skills will set a trader apart from others, and that is what HCI continues to do. "We are able to pick up business because previous suppliers don’t respond, and I always take the time to pick up the phone,” says Petrich. “And this is where the magic happens, as we [HCI] can often assist where others previously could not – or would not." Being a small company and making decisions quickly is an advantage for HCI; the company is more agile than larger firms. HCIs' paradigm is also to do what is best for their customers, making recommendations and market evaluations that are right for their clients, not just HCI. They are able to thrive off of referrals and their own tenacity for gaining clients.

His secret to exporting? “Get yourself a skilled logistic person or company, and one who will stick with you,” says Petrich. Although many new technologies help with logistics, there is still so much uncertainty with shipping products internationally. Having a skilled and patient logistics support can enhance the operation immensely, as logistics can change rapidly. For example, with only one delay in the shipping process, it will mean that everything after, logistically, will likely need to be updated and redone, and that can happen several times throughout the route.

"Trading like this can be a tough job," Petrich explains. The shippers and the buyers take on all the risk once the products are out of the fields, and Petrich laughs as he says, "there is no crop insurance for what we do." The continued shipping delays throughout the globe are causing havoc in many industries, and HCI is not alone. "This would be a fun business if we didn't have to ship anything!" jokes Petrich.

"Global shipping has certainly been a challenge," he notes, as many of us are aware. Petrich goes on to add that historically, much of the overland shipping in the Midwest had not been as robust as needed. However, he argues that many involved in exporting today would much rather go back to how the shipping behaved twenty-plus months ago than how it is now.

The conversation shifted as Petrich reflected on the global state of affairs, “There is so much noise on the globe with Russian aggression and trade barriers with China, but we still have so many issues to work out domestically. This includes labor shortage, inland shipping, and port congestion.” All of which are ongoing topics not isolated to ND companies. “I suspect another business disruptor will come to change how things are done," says Petrich, "they have to. Exporters in the Midwest cannot continue to operate with this much uncertainty.” We have seen many disruptors in other business models. It will just take some time."  Like so many other seasoned exporters, he is watching to see the changes in global trade, shipping, and the challenges that will be overcome, hopefully in the near future.

According to Petrich, HCI is a dedicated and hard-working team of two who focus on customers' needs and have a proactive approach to doing business, which sets them apart. If you are in need of HCI's services, Curt Petrich can be reached at  +1 701.850.0340.

Member Profile: ND Ethanol Council

Member Profile: ND Ethanol Council

Posted on February 1, 2022

The North Dakota Ethanol Council (NDEC) has been active since 2009 when the  ND State Legislature established it to promote ethanol in the state. A total of six plants are active across ND, including Blue Flint Ethanol, Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, Hankinson Renewable Energy, Red River Biorefinery, Red Trail Energy, LLC, and Tharaldson Ethanol Plant. As a relatively new industry in ND, the council promotes ethanol research, education, and market development across the state. Deana Wiese, the NDEC's Executive Director, Jeff Zueger,  NDEC Chairman and Chairman for Blue Flint, and  Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, and Keshav Rajpal of Red River Commodities all took some time to talk more about the ethanol industry in ND.

Zueger explains that he and his team had their eyes on ND as a primary location to build an ethanol plant back in the early 2000s, as regulations regarding clean and renewable standards were taking hold across the US. "The business culture and legislation were ripe with opportunity, and so many people were willing to help," says Zueger as Blue Flint was coming to fruition in Underwood, ND.

Another integral piece to stabilizing the ethanol industry in ND was the advancements in corn genetics which allowed for an 82-day growing period and hybrid corn well suited for ethanol production. "Growing corn with genetics that worked well in North Dakota essential, so once that happened, we knew would be a game-changer. We believed the corn varieties would come, and they did." described Zeuger.

Wiese emphasized the economic impact of corn growth across the state has been not only significant for the ethanol plants, but also the agriculture industry. "Five out of the six ethanol plants were built in small towns they reap the jobs and tax benefits. It also increases the quality of life for those communities," she says. Wiese goes on to explain additional benefits, like new schools being built in Richardson and Casselton. By having so much ethanol production in the state, many North Dakotans may not even realize that they enjoy lower-cost fuel with added ethanol, but it is an added benefit, says Wiese.

Most of ND ethanol is produced from corn, and anywhere from 40-60% of corn grown in ND goes towards ethanol production. The ethanol plants use more than 140 million bushels of corn each year, and 80% of that corn is grown in ND. In addition, Red River Biofuels in Grand Forks, ND, creates advanced ethanol from waste, including remnants from potato and sugar beet production. "We've been able to monetize waste into a usable commodity," says Rajpal. This plant also produces ethanol, but because it uses waste, it has a lower carbon output than other ethanol products. This edge has been vital for opportunities in export markets requiring lower carbon footprints.

Only about 10% of the ethanol produced in the state stays in ND. The rest is shipped by rail across state lines, either inside the US, or to Canada. There is an increasing ability for some of the low carbon ethanol to qualify under EU regulations, and the export of ND ethanol is fast approaching. "It's a lengthy process," says Rajpal, "but it allows us to access many new markets and arbitrage of new potential markets" Some of the best advice he has for exporters is to use your resources, take advantage of trade missions, and visit with international delegations to make new contacts. "The NDTO and the STEP (State Trade Expansion Program) program were very helpful for us, and we have several opportunities brewing as a result of these activities," says Rajpal. There are many applications for ethanol for the future, and ND plants are continuing to innovate and utilize ethanol and its byproducts in a variety of ways.

Distillers grain is a byproduct of ethanol production and is increasingly used by livestock producers for animal feed. The distiller's grain is high in protein and a good source of energy for cattle, dairy cows, swine, and some poultry. Tharaldson Ethanol announced in December 2021 a new feed facility to harness distillers grains and open a variety of new opportunities.  The feed is primarily geared toward pet foods and aquaculture feed uses with high protein needs.

Another venture for the ethanol plants in ND is CO2 storage. The geology of ND is well suited for underground storage of CO2, another byproduct of ethanol production. The intent is to lessen the amount of CO2 released into the air as a result of ethanol production. The CO2 can remain in the ground indefinitely and would lower the carbon footprint of the plants. Currently, projects are underway for Blue Flint and  Red Trail Energy, where C02 injections appear to be feasible.

As Wiese and Zueger reflect on the ND ethanol industry as a whole, innovation and ingenuity stick out as the driving forces behind the successful ethanol industry in the state. "North Dakota was doing ethanol before it was cool," explains Wiese, "the companies in North Dakota were able to move so quickly into the area because they had been exploring ethanol for some time. This group is always looking for new ways to optimize their assets." As they look to the future of the industry, Zueger says, "ethanol is what we are producing today. We will continue to progress, that ethanol molecule will move into other applications and other markets, and we will be ready for more than just transportation fuels."

As an environmentally friendly fuel, ethanol is being explored for a whole host of applications, and with the strong foundations the ND Ethanol Council has laid so far, ND will not be left behind in this innovative field. Rather, it will be leading it.


Tips on Finding International Agents, Distributors or Reps

Tips on Finding International Agents, Distributors or Reps

Posted on February 1, 2022

Finding buyers internationally can be a challenge for many businesses, large or small. One approach that may be useful to finding buyers in-country is engaging with a partner, foreign distributor, or agent to represent your company in an overseas market. These relationships can take on a variety of roles, including sales, relationship building, customer visits, and attending tradeshows on the company's behalf. There are many benefits to having such a resource available in your chosen international market, but detailed vetting and trust are needed to ensure success.

Before engaging with a foreign representative, it's good practice to do market research to identify where your product will fit and how you want to move forward. Without these essential questions answered, your approach may have less impact. Unless the products are sold directly to consumers, or easily sold online, a foreign representative, distributor, or agent may be one of the best ways to get local market access.

Doing your homework at this stage is essential. Honing in on the market and the company's needs is a good start. Once goals are established, it can be highly beneficial to find someone who will represent the company's products and values well, help negotiate goods deals, and serve as a cultural liaison in your chosen market. Working with domestic resources such as the US Commercial Service or the NDTO to research or be introduced to reputable contacts can be beneficial. It might even be beneficial to make a  journey to the market yourself. This way, you have the opportunity to fine-tune the companies needs and what is expected in an overseas representative. Connections may also be found by engaging with the US or the international markets' trade associations. These organizations may help identify contacts and distributors. There are many examples of individual industry professionals with a strong presence who will make a great representative for hire throughout your target markets, and these people should not be overlooked.

The hiring process for an overseas representative will require some research. Are you hiring this person on to your team as an employee, or will they be a contracted individual? Each country has differing laws for employees and their tax codes. Often it may be beneficial to hire independent contractors, as the burdens of tax laws often fall to the contractor, not the company. Regardless, the you need to do the due diligence to understand where these burdens fall to avoid any unexpected taxes. Be sure to complete this research before entering into any agreements, so both parties have clear expectations from the beginning.

When entering into agreements, be clear and concise with what your company needs in that international market. Trust is crucial for these relationships because direct oversight is limited due to physical distance. Approach each new market with an open mind and be flexible. Different countries do business differently and the agreement you enter into with your foreign representative will often be market-dependent.. Additionally, a company may have a mix of distributors, individual sales representative or larger agency representatives depending on their needs.

When choosing an international representaibe, be sure to consider the following:

  • Asking around: there may be similar people or companies in the same industry with some advice to give, be it positive or negative.
  • Create a formal agreement: a more formal agreement allows for clear objectives, outcomes and control of your product and how it is represented.
    • Make sure it spells out conduct and termination clauses.
  • The local laws: some agreements are acceptable while others are not legally binding. This is highly dependent on the country and it is recommended to consult with legal professionals with knowledge of international law to assist with the agreement finalization.
  • Training: depending on the company and expertise of the agent/representative it might be best to bring them to the US for training. This allows the company to build a relationship and ensure products are well represented. Or, a company may visit overseas periodically, schedule calls, or jointly operate tradeshows to ensure everything is in order.
  • Maintain regular communication and oversight.

Another option is to hire someone from the US and send them to the intended market or country. With this option, be sure to understand their motivations and comfort with the  market, as there are more challenges when doing business in different cultures. Finding someone with experience in that market will help the business hit the ground running.

Whichever option best suits your international business, remember that time and dedication are needed for expansion. Patience, consistent communication, and clear expectations are pinnacles when finding a representative, agent, or distributor overseas.

Additional Resources

American Express: 5 Ways Your Business Can Find an International Distributor

Entrepreneur: How to Find an Overseas Distributor

International Trade Administration: Finding Buyers and Partners

Universal Cargo: Selling Overseas?: How to Find and Hire a Perfect Sale Rep for Your Business

HS 22 and HTS Updates for the New Year

HS 22 and HTS Updates for the New Year

Posted on February 1, 2022

The World Customs Organization (WCO) reviews the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (often called a Harmonized System or HS Codes) every five years. The codes themselves are used globally to standardize and categorize products for international trade.  The goal of the WCO revisions is to keep the codes up to date with constantly evolving technology and emerging global issues. Now in its seventh edition finalized in 2019, there are 351 sets of updates and modifications encompassing many products in the new version nicknamed “HS 22” (2022 being the year the changes come into effect). These updates will guide participating countries on how to modernize their own tariff systems for more consistent product classification for trade across borders.

A full list of the new HS 22 edition is linked below, but here is a sampling of new classifications categories:

  • 3D printers
  • Chemicals and materials specifically controlled under international conventions
  • Electronic waste (e-waste)
  • Fully electric heavy-duty vehicles
  • Rapid diagnostic kits for health and medical research
  • Smartphones
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

The new HS codes were effective January 1, 2022. With more than 200 countries impacted, it is important to understand the updates as they apply to your company and products when shipped internationally. If old classifications are used, you may find customs and regulatory delays. The US has made steps to modify the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) which is based on the HS classifications. The additions were accepted by the US International Trade Commission and signed by President Biden in December 2021. The US HTS System adopted these codes on January 27, 2022 (30 days after the presidential proclamation).

Moving forward, be sure to evaluate any global trade management software to align with new product codes. Many items may need reclassification, and if a manual process is used, take the time to ensure products have the most up-to-date classifications. Doing this will save time from shipping delays, unnecessary customs scrutiny, and government regulation issues in the long run. Experts say to pay special attention to the updates in the classification descriptions, legal notes, and product-specific descriptions, as these many have undergone revisions.

Several ND companies specializing in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS or drones) may find the new HS 22 codes a welcome change, as they now include tariff codes specifically for UAS and drones. UAS was previously classified as crewed aircraft, which did provide ample definitions matching this type of technology. The new codes can more accurately describe the drones in a variety of ways.

Many of the updates have to do with technological advancements, environmental issues, and dual-purpose items needing more specificity and clarifications. For a recap on HS codes, see our previous article Harmonized System Codes for Harmonized Global Trade. The NDTO can help with HS classifications and help guide your trade questions.

Additional Resources

Cryoport Sytems Logistics: 2022 Updates to the Harmonized System (HS) and Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)

The White House: A Proclamation to Modify the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States and for Other Purposes

US International Trade Commission: Harmonized Tariff Schedule (2022 Preliminary Edition)

World Customs Organization: HS Nomenclature 2022 edition

JDSUPRA: New Import Codes for Drones – What You Need To Know

Press Release: Japanese Consul General Visits North Dakota to Strengthen Local Ties

Press Release: Japanese Consul General Visits North Dakota to Strengthen Local Ties

Posted on January 14, 2022

Consul General Tajima Hiroshi tours Crary Industries in West Fargo, ND.

FARGO, ND - The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) is hosting the Japanese Consul General Hiroshi Tajima along with representatives from the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Honorary Consul Ron Leonhardt this week. The visit is a continuation of the Japanese Consulate in Chicago’s Grassroots Caravan initiative in which they seek to collaborate with state, regional, and local leaders and build economic cooperation between Japan and the US. Following a successful visit to western ND in August 2021, the delegation is interested in learning more about the agriculture, energy, and technology industries across the state. Their visit to ND included meetings with Governor Burgum, Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, and NDTO’s Executive Director Drew Combs, as well as tours of SB&B Foods in Casselton, ND, Red Trail Energy in Richardton, ND, and a special visit to Crary Industries in West Fargo, ND, which is a subsidiary of Yamabiko Corporation based in Tokyo, Japan.

Governor Burgum with Consul General Tajima Hiroshi.

“It is an honor to host the Japanese Consul General Tajima and his team in North Dakota,” says Governor Burgum. “We are excited for the many collaborative opportunities in energy, technology and agriculture that will benefit many North Dakotans for years to come.” With a variety of potential investment opportunities, both the Japanese and ND companies can work closely to achieve mutually beneficial endeavors. Commissioner Leiman explains that “The relationship we have with Japan is special. We share similar values, enjoy long-term relationships and have a desire to jointly grow our economies using innovation to accelerate clean energy development.” ND is growing in many leading sectors, and with increasing connections to establish relationships worldwide, the state will be paving the way in more industries across the globe.

“The NDTO looks forward to facilitating ongoing relationships with our Japanese partners in a variety of sectors throughout North Dakota. Sustaining these connections is integral for many cooperative projects in the future,” says Combs. As ND looks to continue advancement across agriculture, energy, and technology industries, growing partnerships will help sustain and positively impact the economy.

In addition to strengthening business ties, Consul General Tajima and the delegation took time to visit Miss Okayama, a nearly 100-year-old Japanese-American Friendship Doll, which is housed in the Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection at NDSU.

A governor-led Japanese trade mission is planned for the second half of 2022, with more details forthcoming. This trade mission, planned by the NDTO and the ND Department of Commerce, is an opportunity to reinvigorate existing relationships and connect with the Japanese in their own country, further cementing partnerships between the two governments.


Additional photos of the visit are available upon request. 

Teaching Trade at the University of Jamestown

Teaching Trade at the University of Jamestown

Posted on January 6, 2022

During the 2021 fall semester, NDTO’s Executive Director Drew Combs, jumped at the opportunity to engage more people in global trade. A group of students from the University of Jamestown in Jamestown, ND, enrolled in the Special Topics course on Economics and Export Trade Management. The course was overseen by Dr. Mort Sarabakhsh and has been ongoing for several years.

Students had the opportunity to explore global trade topics, emphasizing the intricacies of exporting to different countries, approaching and solving problems that may arise from an array of international uncertainties, understanding the ND export market, and factors impacting trade.

 “Engaging more folks in international trade, especially the younger generation, is of particular importance for the NDTO and North Dakota as it continues to expand globally,” says Combs. The students took an in-depth look at the world around them and consistently engaged with the current events on an international scale. This year was a good opportunity for students to see export impacts globally; trade has made international headlines for supply chain issues, port backlog, and large parts of the economy forced into a standstill with the global pandemic. 

As a final project, teams selected a product to export and created a market strategy plan that considered in-country factors like the political environment, cultural norms, competition, legal roadblocks, and transportation issues to gauge the success of their selected product. Then, a Shark-Tank-like presentation to a panel of judges honed in their pitching strategy for becoming export experts.

Overall, the course emphasizes how ND fits into the global economy and how to work through the complexities of exporting in today’s environment. The NDTO has taught this course every two years and will hopefully continue to provide more people with the insights and skills to start thinking about exporting.

2022 Trade Outlook Roundup

2022 Trade Outlook Roundup

Posted on January 6, 2022

Time is precious for all of us, so let's be efficient in 2022. Here's a summary of global trade experts' market outlooks and industry insights for 2022.

AgWeb: 2022 Outlook: Why Corn's Sweet Spot May Be Below $6 in the New Year

Corn exports are expected to be lower than in years past, primarily due to the change in importing from China. Experts say much of the corn pricing in 2022 is linked to the price of fertilizer and the balance that has to be struck with planting corn and fertilizing the fields.  This balance is less concerning in the US, than for other countries, but the price of corn will likely fall under $6 a bushel but be above $5. However, if crude oil prices remain high, this could also mean good news for corn prices.

Barron's Report: Most Commodities Had a Great Year. But 2022 Looks More Challenging.

Commodities including energy, gold, natural gas, oil are highlighted in this article. Many commodities saw an uptick in 2021, but 2022 will likely bring hardship due to financial systems phasing out stimulus and uncertainty with many policies and regulations focusing on supply and demand. There will likely be increased inflation due to supply chain issues which will continue to impact the globe, but it is not likely to heavily impact consumer spending.

Euler Hermes: Global Trade Report- Battling Out of Supply Chain Disruptions

The supply chain disruptions, they believe, will likely ease in Q2 and into Q3 of 2022. The report cites three main factors that will lead to a reduction in supply chain disruptions. Many countries have ended their pandemic stimulus packages, leaving pocketbooks less full into the future, decreasing consumer demand for goods. Inventories have adapted to the current supply chain conditions and are planning ahead more easily. An increase in container ships will also ease some of the burdens that have plagued the shipping industry as the shipping capacity will expand.

Financial Post: Outlook 2022: Big Dog for Canada's Trade is Still the United States

For 2022, Canada still anticipated the US as its largest trading partner but is looking to diversify. The updated NAFTA (USMCA) agreement has helped Canada with clear paths on discipline for violations of the agreement, but the current Prime Minister has taken swift action on trade threats as a means of retaliation which has not been historically typical for the Canadians. The country hopes to grow its automotive industry, but this may be a challenge with so many competitors nearby.

Global Trade Magazine: How to Prepare for Global Logistics in 2022

Despite the seemingly never-ending hardships to global shipping this year, with the Suez Canal blockade, labor shortages, hurricanes, and port closures, 2022 may bring some of the same. Learning to adapt and overcome will be an integral part of success in the new year. Their recommendations for a less disruptive 2022 is to get creative, look into different modes of transportation, utilize less-than-container load (LCL) shipping options and consider inland travel if possible. Take the opportunity to engage in more technology and data analytics to assist with supply chain disruptions and increase efficiency. There may also be untapped opportunities closer to home as everyone struggles with the supply chain. Look into suppliers or customers that may be geographically closer than your usual sources.

UNCTAD: Global Trade Updates (Novemeber 2021)

As global trade stabilized in late 2021, the outlook for 2022 still remains uncertain due to the following factors:

  • The speed of economic recovery has varied greatly in 2021, with lower than projected growth in Q3 for many countries. The rising inflation and commodity prices will impact recovery.
  • Supply chain disruptions and uncertainty will continue into 2022, along with the semi-conductor shortage
  • geopolitical tensions and increased regional trade negotiations are altering trade patterns globally.
  • Governmental Trade policies have become increasingly focused on domestic goals. They have also increased scrutiny on environmental impacts, human rights issues, and security.

USDA: Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade: November 2021

US agricultural exports are expected to remain high, and 2022 could quite possibly be a record-breaking year for many, including wheat, livestock, poultry, dairy, and ethanol. Soybeans and oilseeds for export are down slightly from the previous predictions.  The USDA anticipates export sales to reach $175.5 billion, which is $1.5 billion higher than 2021's estimates. While supply chains issues are still causing backups and bottlenecks, there is some evidence that this is to smooth out in 2022.

YPO Global Pulse: Business Outlook for 2022:

YPO surveyed chief executives across 101 countries and 44 industries to provide an outlook on global business for 2022. The majority of their respondents (81%) are optimistic for 2022. Revenue and hiring are increasing for 37% of respondents, but nearly half also say their employment levels are similar to their 2020 numbers.  Only 2% of respondents believe that the supply chain issues will resolve in early 2022, with more than 80% of members being very or somewhat concerned about the impact of supply chain issues across all regions. Opinions on if inflation and rising prices of goods and services will happen also seem imminent to most respondents. The survey also highlights trends in working from home policies across the globe and what sectors are traveling again.

As you can see, there is some variation among experts as to when exactly the supply chains will recover in 2022, but most outlooks are optimistic for later in the year. There are high expectations for improvement in several markets, but much of this hinges on the buying power of consumers.  Jobs will likely be on the rise, and so will inflation.  However, with the easing of supply chains and more hands to help, hopefully, there will be more bright spots in 2022.

India’s New Non-GM and GM-Free Requirements

India’s New Non-GM and GM-Free Requirements

Posted on January 6, 2022

In 2020 the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued orders to require Non-Genetically Modified (GM) and GM-free certificates on certain agricultural and food consignments imports. Further clarification has been forthcoming since the requirement took effect in March 2021, and in November of 2021, more information was clarified on how to provide this documentation.

India touts this certification requirement as a safety regulation for its consumers. India has had a long history of regulating GM and Genetically Engineered (GE) products in their food supply chains, which have caused hardship and frustration on both sides of the debate for letting GM/GE foods into the country and into their farming practices. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are currently not allowed in India's food products for human consumption. However, there has been some gray area around feeding GMO products to animals, and those animals go directly to human consumption. This has been the case for GMOs in chicken feed, which has made the Indian poultry market more profitable but has also introduced GMOs into the food supply chains.

With this new regulation, a “competent national authority” of the exporting country is needed for the certification documentation. In the US, the USDA and similar agencies like the ND Dept of Agriculture are tasked with providing such certifications, allowing entry of GM-Free products into the Indian marketplace. The certificates are needed for items intended for direct use in food or processing, according to recent clarifications from FSSAI. Anything imported that defies the GM rules will require prior approval from the FSSAI before entry.

Each of the 24 crop groups listed below will need to be accompanied by documentation certifying its non-GM or GM-free status. Several of the targeted products are grown in ND. Below is the list of the specific foods requiring non-GM or GM-free certification if exported to India.

  1. Alflalfa (Medicago sativa)
  2. Apple (Malus x Domestica)
  3. Agentina Canola (Brassica napus)
  4. Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
  5. Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
  6. Cowpea (Vigna unguiculate)
  7. Egg Plant (Brinjal) Solanum melanogoa
  8. Flax seed (Linumusitatissimum)
  9. Maiz (Zea mays)
  10. Melon (Cucumis melo)
  11. Papya (Carica papaya)
  12. Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
  13. Plum (Prunes domestica)
  14. Polish canola (Brassica rapa)
  15. Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
  16. Rice (Orzya sativa)
  17. Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
  18. Soybean (Glycine max)
  19. Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
  20. Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris)
  21. Sugarcane (Sacchrum sp)
  22. Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
  23. Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum)
  24. Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Recent talks on this regulation were brought up at the India-US Policy Forum in New Dehli in November 2021, and India held its ground on the measures, saying that GM food was not allowed in their country. In a joint statement from both the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, they emphasized that talks were still ongoing and there was some possibility of future market access adjustments available for agricultural products.

With these new regulations, if your ND company is struggling to find the right place to find information, the NDTO is here to help. NDTO’s International Business Manager Jiwon Kim says, “we are happy to work as a bridge to assist exporters who have questions on India’s GM rules, and we can connect you with the right agencies to help.”  NDTO will continue to watch for updates to the GM certification process in the future to keep you informed.


Member Profile: Summers Manufacturing

Member Profile: Summers Manufacturing

Posted on December 2, 2021

Summers Manufacturing is an employee-owned business in
Devils Lake, ND, with a passion for strong and durable equipment. They have
been producing farm equipment like tillers, land rollers, and sprayers since 1965
and see their slow and steady growth continuing well into the future. Territory
sales managers John Helgaas and Ben Idland took some time to discuss exports,
manufacturing in ND, and how Summers has continued to excel.

The company's backbone is its consistent workforce with many
years of experience who are fiercely loyal. For many businesses across the
country, workforce shortages have become an issue, but with dedicated
employees, Summers can also focus on farmers' hardships too. "We have to
adapt to what the farmer's challenges are," says Helgaas, "if they
have labor shortages, we can adapt our products to use fewer laborers." He
goes on to talk about how this industry (manufacturing and farming) was born
out of adaptability. Farmers have been adjusting to the environment, labor
needs, and with or without the pandemic, they have a strong history of being
creative, innovative, and forward-thinking to overcome challenges. "Summers
is made up of farmers," says Helgaas, and they strive for creative

Summers primarily exports their products to Canada, Russia,
and more recently, Australia with growing success. "We are a pretty small
company to have a global impact," says Idland, with about fifty employees
in Devis Lake and four in Aberdeen, SD. "But, once a country gets their
first taste of how tough our equipment is, they keep coming back. For example,
we have had such a huge surge in Russia, and our equipment has to be tough for
their environment," touts Idland.  
The company has found a niche where their products work well, and to
continue the momentum, maintaining their relationships and ongoing support in
those markets is necessary.  They have
had an employee in Russia for several years to cement their relationships in
the country.

Helgaas had three pieces of advice to share with new exporters
as they get into new markets:

  1. Align yourself with people already doing
    business in that country. There are a lot of challenges, but an ally can
    provide vital information and requirements you may not have considered.
  2. Make sure you are in a growth market. Don't go
    into a market that is on the downturn of expansion.
  3. Take exporting slow and steady. Take the time to
    get your feet wet.

Taking the initiative to find reliable resources, good
market data, and a measured approach will help new exporters maintain
scalability and lasting growth. Summers has ebbed and flowed over the years,
but the two explained their slow but steady expansion has paid off. The company
has gradually scaled up over time. Idland explains how manufacturing facilities
like Summers are harder to scale up or down quickly. It makes more sense to
grow slowly. Working on engaging businesses with longer contract life has been
essential to ensure that an investment in new facilities and new equipment for
expansion will pay off. 

Technology is infiltrating many aspects of life for
manufacturers like Summers. With opportunities to increase production speed and
accuracy, the company embraces new technology both on the manufacturing floor
and in its global relationships. Robotics have been incorporated into the
manufacturing facility with robotic welders and CNC press breaks that allow
precision sheet metal bending. These upgrades have been welcomed by many of the
workers. Idland explains that the robots save the employees time, increase efficiency,
and make work a little easier, so they are happy to have them.

For the sales and service team, the capability to have virtual
meetings with contacts overseas has been an essential part of the business over
the last year and a half. It has helped the company maintain relationships,
make deals, and keep the dialog going. "Getting real-time feedback from
potential customers overseas has been crucial. You can see their expressions,
hear the vitality in the conversations, and hopefully detect any unsureness
before it becomes an issue," says Helgaas. Inland also says the
opportunity to keep connecting with their overseas customers has been great. "It
is now possible for us to hop on a video call and show them how something works
in real-time instead of talking over the phone to try and understand each other's
needs." YouTube and other platforms have also played a role in showing the
customers how to utilize Summers products effectively, with more people having
access to quick answers and visual information.

Both Helgass and Idland note that supply chains have been an
ongoing issue on several fronts, like so many businesses and consumers,
products, and parts are running way behind."When it comes down to it,"
Helgaas says, "we [manufacturing companies] are all competing for the same
thing,  we all use the same steel, hoses,
and parts to manufacture our products, so this becomes difficult to ensure
everything is acquired." As so many manufacturers are waiting on parts for
their products, the media's magnification on shipping issues has provided
transparency from customers. "Everybody is frustrated with shipping. At
least with real-time information, some of the pain can be transferred off of
businesses like us, as it is a global issue," says Helgaas. The team
remains hopeful that many of these issues will resolve over the next few

Summers has built their reputation for building rugged equipment that meets farmers' needs and has continued to expand its products globally. And despite the global pandemic, they have found bright spots in communication and technology that have served them well. The innovative spirit of a farmer is embraced by this team of hard-working individuals. At the end of our conversation, Helgaas couldn't help but add that "this is a proud North Dakota company, it is made up of farmers, and that is something I will stand behind."