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Trade

U.S. Sweet Potato Production Swells

Chances are that if you order a side of fries at a restaurant, you need to specify whether you’re asking for white potatoes or sweet potatoes. Food trends that support the consumption of more healthful, colorful and unique foods have helped to encourage sales of sweet potatoes in the form of fries, chips, ready-to-cook and heat-and-eat preparations, expanding consumption of the orange tuber well beyond the holiday table.

Domestic consumption of sweet potatoes has grown considerably since 2000 with annual per capita availability (a proxy for consumption) rising from 4.2 pounds to reach a record-high 7.5 pounds in 2015. The marked rise in domestic demand has been encouraged by promotion of the health benefits of sweet potatoes – rich in vitamins A and C, high in fiber. Expanded demand has also been supported by the increasing variety of sweet potato products available in restaurants and for home preparation.

USDA Reaches Out to Growing Asian American and Pacific Islander Population

Did you know that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) make up the fastest growing population group in the United States?  Increasing over four times as rapidly as the overall U.S. population, AAPIs are projected to more than double by 2060, from 20 million today to 50 million. A recent event in the nation’s capital focused on the implications of this trend, in a public exhibit and conference entitled "Fast Forward 2060" (FF 2060) As USDA’s Senior Advisor and Director of AAPI Affairs, I was excited to participate in this event and exhibit the ways that USDA serves the AAPI community.

Community-based organizations, government agencies, associations, businesses and media gathered in Washington, DC on December 7, 2016 to reflect on the progress that had been made under the White House Initiative on AAPIs (WHIAAPI) and discuss the challenges that still lay ahead. Since 2009, the White House Initiative on AAPIs under President Obama has been working to improve the quality of life for AAPIs by increasing access to federal programs and assistance, as recounted in a legacy video shown by WHIAAPI at FF 2060. USDA has been very strategically engaged in WHIAAPI throughout the Obama Administration.  USDA’s exhibit at FF 2060 showcased some of our focused results.

Meeting the China E-Commerce Challenge

In the United States, farming and technology go hand-in-hand in production agriculture. Technology helps improve productivity, efficiency and safety. Now, we’re discovering new ways that technology and digital strategies can offer similar benefits when marketing U.S. farm and food products overseas.

I recently led a group of women agricultural leaders on a trade mission to Shanghai and Hong Kong in China. One of the most interesting things we saw and learned was how e-commerce is paving the way for Chinese consumers to gain quick and easy access to high-value U.S. food and agricultural products. As a young, Chinese shopper explained to me, he purchases nearly 80 percent of his groceries online – skipping the trip to a traditional wet market or Western-style grocery store.

U.S. and Mexico Collaborate on Organic Monitoring and Enforcement

As consumer demand for organic products continues to grow around the world, the USDA Organic Seal has become a leading global standard. USDA provides support for the vibrant organic sector, representing a retail market of over $43 billion in the United States alone.  USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is excited to announce another way we are helping organic producers reach new markets and offering consumers additional organic products.

We plan to establish a Joint Organic Compliance Committee in support of a potential organic equivalency arrangement between the United States and Mexico. There is already a robust trade in agricultural products taking place between our two countries: Last year, the United States exported over $100 million of organic food products to Mexico – our third largest agricultural export market – and Mexico supplied the United States with food certified to the U.S. organic standards, including seasonal produce.

USDA Borlaug Fellow Helps Farmers in His Native Country

Issah Sugri of Ghana is helping his nation feed itself and improve its farmers’ efficiency thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program. The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, funded by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), is a six to 12 week training program that pairs up-and-coming researchers from selected countries with mentors from a U.S. land-grant institution or government agency. Sugri, one of 36 FAS Borlaug Fellows in 2012, was assigned to the University of Florida with the specific goal of reducing post-harvest losses of tomatoes by better understanding climate-relevant, low-tech methods of extending shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables.

When he returned to Ghana, Sugri put his fellowship training to immediate use. Collaborating with fellow researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), based in Bawku, Ghana, he published fact sheets for local farmers describing optimal harvest and storage conditions. Sugri even included his mobile phone number so he could accept field questions and provide clarification.  He also worked with extension agents to train producers on post-harvest loss avoidance techniques and their economic benefits. At Sugri’s urging, SARI hired a dedicated food scientist to focus additional research on the topic.

Discovering New Opportunities in Thailand - from Grains and Greens to Seafood

In mid-August, I traveled to Southeast Asia and witnessed firsthand the great strides being made to help increase food security and trade. I also came to appreciate the immense potential for future trade opportunities in the area. I returned with a reaffirmed sense of urgency to continue building upon recent gains in trade with Thailand.

Thailand purchased a record $1.7 billion in food and agricultural products last year from the United States, making it our 13th largest export market. Overall, U.S. agricultural exports to Thailand have grown by more than 150 percent over the past decade. Throughout my visit, growing demand for both U.S. bulk commodities and consumer products was very clear.

Seed Businesses Saving Money Thanks to Canadian Trade Deal

Trade between nations regularly involves meeting strict government requirements that often create logistical obstacles for all parties involved.  U.S. seed businesses often experience this when doing business with our cousins to the north.  Canada is one of the largest importers of U.S. seed – with tons of seed worth millions of dollars being imported each year.

Thanks to the close partnership between the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), American seed growers and businesses are saving thousands of dollars each year in these cross border transactions.

Showcasing New Opportunities in the Growing Philippines Food and Beverage Market

As the largest U.S. food and beverage export market in Southeast Asia and one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the Philippines is attracting top food franchises. To showcase these new market opportunities, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and U.S. Commercial Service offices in Manila organized a first-ever cooperative marketing event for the country.

Supported by the Philippine Franchise Association and the Hotel and Restaurant Purchasing Managers Association of the Philippines, the event brought together more than 15 importers and 180 key decision makers of U.S. and Philippine-grown food franchises. Not only did the event showcase the availability, quality and uses of U.S. fine foods and beverages, it also linked importers with food franchises and helped them identify market access issues, trends and new trade opportunities.

USDA Market News Reporters Know Beef

The United States is the largest beef producer and one of the largest beef exporters in the world.  In order to remain competitive, our Nation’s beef producers and everyone else in the supply chain need reliable data to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, and monitor price patterns.

USDA Market News – part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – provides the entire beef industry with equal access to the data they need with just the click of a button.  Livestock, Poultry, and Grain Market News Division reporters gather and disseminate beef market information, ranging from feeder cattle to retail beef prices.  From farm-to-fork, we have the cattle and beef markets covered.

Cacao for Peace: How the Fruit of a Tree Could Help Sustain Peace and Revive Rural Communities in Colombia

I’ve learned a lot about cacao lately. I learned that it’s pronounced ka-COW. I learned that it’s grown on trees in tropical climates and is the essential ingredient in chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. I learned that it’s not to be confused with coca, which is an illicit crop and the primary ingredient in cocaine.

I also learned that Colombia, despite having near-perfect growing conditions for the cacao tree, produces a small fraction of the world’s supply. So how might cacao help solidify peace in Colombia after a 52-year armed conflict and, at the same time, enhance the U.S.-Colombia relationship? I discovered how when I visited last month and learned more about USDA’s Cacao for Peace project.