Earlier today in Vietnam, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA’s market development programs are investing roughly $213 million in more than 70 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for their goods. Consumers in the Asia Pacific, said the Secretary, recognize the United States as a reliable supplier of the highest-quality food and agriculture products. And USDA’s international market development programs are playing a significant role in the surging demand for the American brand of agriculture around the world.
For example, consumers on Taiwan, like others around the world, are becoming more health-conscious and aware of the nutritional value of whole- and multi-grain products. Recognizing this as an opportunity to increase markets for U.S. wheat and other products, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and other export promotion organizations have partnered with the Taipei office of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to promote healthy baked goods in Taiwan with funding from USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP).
Beginning in 2007, USDA cooperators, including USW and others, worked with Taiwan flour mills and bakers and the China Grain Products Research and Development Institute (CGPRDI) to produce a new line of healthy bakery products made with hard red spring wheat grown in the United States.
The effort expanded in 2010, when the Cranberry Marketing Committee and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council joined USW and the other partners. The groups worked with CGPRDI to develop formulations for healthy breads. They delivered this information to professional bakers and nutritionists via educational seminars across Taiwan and also conducted events to promote the products to consumers. USW also worked with local flour mills and the Taiwan government to develop protocols for ingredients and production.
This year, USW expanded its efforts further, partnering with the U.S. Grains Council in the development and promotion of Chinese-style, flour-based products such as noodles and steam breads.
As a result of these cooperative efforts, demand for U.S. wheat has increased, despite the fact that Taiwan is considered a mature market. Over the past five years, the United States has provided nearly 84 percent of Taiwan’s wheat imports.
Currently, the American brand of agriculture is surging in popularity worldwide. Farm exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion – exceed the past record by $22.5 billion – and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home. The agricultural trade surplus stands at a record $42.9 billion. And USDA’s international market development programs have supported U.S. agriculture’s success. An independent study released in 2010 found that for every $1 expended by government and industry on market development, U.S. food and agricultural exports increase by $35.