This week, I traveled to Ottawa to meet with Canadian trade group leaders as well as Gerry Ritz, the minister of agriculture in Canada. As part of these meetings, we discussed agricultural trade issues that both of our countries face and opportunities for collaboration. In between meetings, I had the opportunity to participate in the tasteUS! Culinary Showcase. This event took place at Ambassador Jacobson’s residence and guests included Canadian media, buyers from Canadian grocery chains and food establishments, and U.S. cooperator representatives in Canada.
I was pleased to be on hand to serve as the primary spokesperson for U.S. agricultural products and to highlight their benefits and uses to compliment Canadian cuisine. I also took the opportunity to speak about the importance of farmers on both sides of border who provide us with nutritious, safe, and affordable foods. Not only is Canada important to the United States as an export market, but also one of the largest suppliers of our agricultural imports.
tasteUS! is an initiative started in 2005 by a public-private partnership designed to increase awareness of cooperative promotions among USDA, non-profit agricultural, and non-profit state-regional trade groups. tasteUS! continues to offer Canadians an amazing selection of U.S.-grown food and beverage products, available year round.
Created especially for the event, the menu featured 16 U.S. agricultural products that can be purchased in Canada, including organic kiwis, pears, pistachios, and wine. Many of the guests commented about the delicious food and wines featured. When asked which wines he preferred, one local wine critic simply said "I love them all."
Additionally, it was my honor to draw the guests' attention to three U.S. small businesses who have entered the Canadian market with assistance from USDA trade promotion programs. We shared with our Canadian friends the stories and samples of Good Groceries, Los Chileros, and Martex Farms. Working with U.S. farmers and companies like these is one of the primary drivers of USDA support of the President's National Export Initiative.