NDTO News Article

North Dakota Specialty Crop Companies Find Success in Colombia

The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) led a delegation of five North Dakota pulse and dry bean processors to Colombia on April 6-10. Companies met with potential buyers in the cities of Bogotá and Medellín. This was the fourth North Dakota trade mission to Colombia.

“The trip was very well organized and the camaraderie of the group could not have been better,” said Tim Courneya, Executive Vice President of Northarvest Bean Growers Association. “We encountered a lot of enthusiasm from most of the importers about pulses in general.”

The North Dakota delegation met with about 20 Colombian specialty crop buyers. The trip was funded in part by NDTO’s Specialty Crop Program, which was created using an award granted by the Department of Agriculture. The NDTO Specialty Crop Program’s focus is to increase global market visibility and competitiveness of the North Dakota specialty crop sector. Specialty crops included in this program are peas, beans, lentils and confectionary sunflowers.

The delegation found success using the combined approach of holding wholesale buyer meetings as well as meetings with supermarket chain owners in order to sell ND pulses directly to Colombian consumers. This success will hopefully continue as North Dakota companies host Colombian buyers back here during a reverse trade mission in August 2015. “It’s a very promising market,” said Kevin Haas, manager at Legume Matrix. “There are some things to overcome, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

The reverse trade mission is set to bring in specialty crop buyers from Colombia, Italy and Croatia on August 17-21. The reverse trade mission will also be a part of the NDTO Specialty Crop Program. Plans are in motion to return to Colombia in February 2016 to focus again on Colombian supermarkets and introducing the Colombian palate to ND pulses.

Apart from the market potential, another draw to Colombia is the vibrant culture and friendly people. “I appreciate Colombia’s culture, accommodations and its people,” said Courneya. “The people are so courteous, helpful and they place value in your visit.”

For more information on opportunities in Colombia, please contact Larry White at larry@ndto.com.