Last week, I traveled to Canada – the second-largest market for U.S. agricultural products. Wanting to see our companies promoting U.S. export sales, I attended SIAL Canada, an international trade show in Toronto, which welcomed more than 530 exhibitors and 12,000 food and agricultural business professionals from around the world.
While there, I met with the 28 American companies exhibiting in the USA pavilion, which was endorsed by USDA. Many of the companies were only able to attend the show because of support from the State Trade Regional Groups (STRGs) and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) market development programs.
Of the U.S. exhibitors, 10 were new to the Canadian market and five were making their first venture into exporting internationally. In all, 190 new U.S. products were introduced and companies gained more than 360 industry contacts. Among the U.S. products that sparked the most interest on the showroom floor were Puerto Rican coffee, fresh apples in single serving packages, parboiled rice, Halal kebabs, spicy plum chutney, chocolate covered pretzels, roasted peach whiskey sauce, tahini, pecans, organic pet supplements and much more.
By exhibiting at SIAL Canada, these U.S. companies are building strong trade relationships with Canada. In 2010 alone, U.S. agriculture, fish and forestry exports to Canada totaled $19.8 billion –15 percent of all U.S. farm exports that year.
At this year’s show, U.S. exhibitors were visited by buyers from several of Canada’s major retail and food service trade businesses. Total on-site sales for the USA pavilion were reported at an estimated $65,000 and future sales are projected to reach $3.6 million in the next year. Long-term prospects are also promising – four agent-distributor agreements were secured, 14 agent-distributor agreements are now pending and one joint-venture deal was signed.
In addition to watching U.S. companies thrive on the trade show floor, I engaged in lively discussion with representatives of various U.S. agricultural groups about the successes and challenges they’ve encountered in exporting to the Canadian market. I also met with Canadian brokers and gained further insight on various strategies and business practices that will help U.S. companies remain competitive in this important market for farm exports.
By promoting agricultural products at trade shows held around the world, U.S. agribusinesses are making great strides toward increasing their own export sales and are ultimately helping achieve President Obama’s National Export Initiative Goal (NEI) of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
To learn more about FAS and the ways we assist U.S. agribusinesses, visit our website.