NDTO News Article

Reverse Missions Yield Results

Big Iron Agricultural Equipment (Sept. 10-13)

North Dakota agricultural equipment companies that participated in the Trade Office’s inaugural Big Iron International Visitors Program have reported initial sales valued at $1.55 million.

The companies also reported establishing key business ties that are expected to generate another $13 million in sales during the next year as a direct result of their participation in the International Visitors Program.

The Trade Office and U.S. Commercial Service recruited about 130 equipment distributors and other key buyers of agricultural equipment from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and several other foreign countries to attend the Big Iron Farm Show and Exhibition held at the Red River Fairgrounds.

As part of the International Visitors Program, the foreign guests participated in four days of special events designed to generate business for North Dakota’s agricultural equipment manufacturers and dealers. The program included tours of manufacturing, buyer-seller receptions, field demonstrations and one-on-one meetings with equipment manufacturers and dealers.

“The International Visitors Program, sponsored by the North Dakota Trade Office, is an effective way of leveraging the draw of Big Iron to build on North Dakota’s growing global reach. This program is an important part of a much larger state effort to expand North Dakota’s export sales in the international marketplace,” Gov. John Hoeven said.

In surveys, 91 percent of the North Dakota equipment companies said the program was very well executed. In a survey of foreign visitors, 82 percent said they will or are more likely to buy North Dakota equipment since participating in the program.

Participating North Dakota companies and the program’s foreign guests said the Trade Office should provide a more comfortable pavilion next year where buyers and sellers can meet. The Trade Office erected two large tents for the inaugural event, but is working with Big Iron organizers to house the program in better-suited meeting space next year.

SE Asia Soybean Buyers Mission (Sept. 13-18)

Local producers and marketers of value-added crops say efforts to increase sales in the growing Southeast Asia food market are paying off.

The Trade Office and members of the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association (NFGSA) hosted a group of 11 food-grade soybean buyers representing leading companies in Southeast Asia Sept. 13-18. The reverse trade mission has resulted in new business ties and initial sales valued at $935,000, local companies report.

The reverse trade mission also helped solidify existing business ties for some NFGSA members who have signed contracts to sell another $3.5 million worth of food-grade soybeans during the first half of 2008.

“Having these people come here to see first hand the quality of our supplies and to develop relationships is an important step,” said Dave Morken, manager of Unity Seed Company in Casselton.

The visiting food processors represent major companies in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The soybean buyers toured area farms and processing plants and held meetings with local producers wanting to expand their export sales. Dr. Sam Chang, a soybean researcher at North Dakota State University, provided a soy food seminar, outlining the benefits of North Dakota’s soybean varieties and quality.

Soy milk and tofu are staples in Southeast Asian diets and represent a market valued at more than $250 million annually. The demand for food-grade soybeans in Southeast Asia is growing at a rate of about 15 percent a year, the U.S. Soy Export Council reports.

Local companies participating in the reverse mission were:

* Peterson Farms Seed, Harwood, N.D.
* Richland Organics, Inc., Wahpeton, N.D.
* Brushvale Seed Inc., Wahpeton-Breckenridge
* Unity Seed Co., Casselton, N.D.
* SB&B Foods, Casselton, N. D.
* Buchholz Seed Farm, Durbin, N.D.
* SK Food International, Fargo
* SunOpta, Fargo-Moorhead

The U.S. Soybean Export Council assisted in developing the reverse mission by identifying and qualifying the best candidates for long-term business. Other sponsors of the trade mission were the North Dakota Agricultural Products and Utilization Commission, North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the Northern Crops Institute.