NDTO News Article

Southeast Asia, Australia trade missions yield results

Australia sales  top $9.3 Million; Southeast Asia generates value-added food sales
CASSELTON, N.D. – Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, North Dakota Trade Office officials and members of recent trade missions to Southeast Asia and Australia today say going the distance for new customers is paying off with substantial business.

Dalrymple in conjunction with the North Dakota Trade Office led a group of 11 North Dakota companies to Australia March 2-12, and a second trade delegation representing eight businesses – six of which produce and market value-added crops – to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand on March 12-18.

“We have been overwhelmed by a positive response for the purchase of North Dakota soybeans,” Dalrymple said. “This is very encouraging since the vast majority of soybeans to that part of the world are currently shipped from Canada.”

The value-added agriculture companies met with nine of the largest food buyers and processors in Southeast Asia. From those meetings, SB&B Foods of Casselton is actively negotiating to sell about 30 containers of non-genetically modified soybeans, SB&B President Robert Sinner said.

Unity Seed, also of Casselton, is negotiating its own sale expected to ship this week. All of the companies report that they are following up on contacts, sending product samples overseas and that that the mission will result in sales over the next 12 months.

Rick Brandenburger, president of Richland Organics Inc. of Wahpeton, said the trade mission helped open doors to one of the world’s fastest growing markets for food-grade soybeans.

“The contacts were outstanding,” Brandenburger said. “We met with some very large and serious manufacturers that are on the grow. Do I expect business resulting from this mission? I certainly do.”

Malaysia and Thailand rank among the top 15 largest importers of U.S. soybeans, and their demand for food-grade soybeans is projected to continue its steady growth. In Southeast Asia, soy-based foods and beverages are an integral part of the diet and culture. In Thailand, for example, soy beverages are marketed as soft drinks and they represent nearly all non-dairy drinks sold. Thailand’s soy drink market alone has grown from $97 million in sales in 2000 to $141 million last year, and is expected to generate $183 million by 2010.

“These early results are very significant, especially when you consider that the mission’s primary goal was not immediate sales, but instead, to penetrate a new market for North Dakota Growers,” said Susan Geib, executive director of the North Dakota Trade Office. “We worked to forge long-term business relationships in one of the fastest-growing markets.”

Increasing exports Down Under

North Dakota businesses that participated in a trade mission to Australia March 2-12 report that their export expansion efforts will collectively yield $9.3 million in sales during the next 12 months.

All 11 of the companies  – a diverse group of businesses that include manufacturers of agricultural equipment, medical equipment, aircraft parts, processed foods and environmental systems – report yielding business they did not have prior to the mission.

Three companies sold about $830,000 of equipment, but the mission’s greatest success is expected to come in the form of future sales through distributorships and from future manufacturing and service orders, said Susan Geib, executive director of the North Dakota Trade Office.

Mission delegates also are negotiating seven “contract for service” manufacturing deals to be developed in North Dakota and are in talks with 10 pre-qualified sales distributors.

“The delegates seemed very pleased with the quality of their contacts and the partnership capabilities,” Dalrymple said. “We view this as a win-win for North Dakota, the companies and Australia.”

The Trade Office and U.S. Commercial Service began in October the process of identifying market opportunities, pre-qualifying Australian distributors and coordinating the trade mission.

Australia is North Dakota’s third largest trading partner. North Dakota exports of manufactured goods and processed foods totaled more than $76 million last year – more than three times ($24.26) the value of exports to Australia in 2000. Last year, the United States and Australia entered into a free trade agreement that eliminated duties on 99 percent of all U.S.-manufactured exports. America’s manufacturers estimate that eliminating these tariffs will increase the export of manufactured goods by nearly $2 billion a year.

The companies that participated in the trade mission to Australia were:

Mid-America Aviation Inc., West Fargo

Pump Systems Inc., Dickinson

Roll-a-Ramp, West Fargo

Duratech Industries International Inc., Jamestown

Summers Manufacturing, Co. Inc., Maddock