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Idaho companies see opportunity in trade mission

Fourteen Idaho companies that deal in agricultural commodities will be participating in an upcoming state trade mission to Taiwan and Vietnam.
John O’Connell

Capital Press

Published on October 31, 2017 8:33AM

Mustard seed awaits shipping at Mountain States Oilseeds in American Falls, Idaho. Company officials will participate in an upcoming state trade mission to Vietnam and Taiwan.

John O’Connell/Capital Press File

Mustard seed awaits shipping at Mountain States Oilseeds in American Falls, Idaho. Company officials will participate in an upcoming state trade mission to Vietnam and Taiwan.

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BOISE — Officials with Mountain States Oilseeds are optimistic they’ll soon establish business ties in Vietnam and expand existing relationships in Taiwan through their participation in a state-sponsored trade mission.

Organizers of the trade mission, scheduled for Nov. 10-18, say 14 of 21 participating companies deal in agricultural commodities. Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, will lead the mission in Gov. Butch Otter’s stead.

Chris Ravsten, with the American Falls-based oilseeds supplier, said his company is scheduled to meet with a current safflower buyer in Taiwan in hopes of increasing sales. Ravsten said it’s fortuitous that his company recently started supplying Oriental mustard, which is extremely popular in Asia. Mustard samples have already been sent to potential buyers.

“We feel a really good connection with Oriental mustard as far as what the Asian culture likes, and I think we’ve got a really good opportunity to really increase our markets,” Ravsten said, adding he returned with several new customers when he participated in a previous trade mission sponsored by the governor.

The governor’s office, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the Idaho Department of Commerce have collaborated on trade missions for decades.

An Idaho mission last visited Taiwan and Vietnam in 2013, though this will be the first visit to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, said Laura Johnson, ISDA’s market development division bureau chief. The mission’s destinations are chosen based on a survey of Idaho companies. ISDA has a Taiwan-based trade office that also covers the rest of Southeast Asia, identifying business opportunities for Idaho companies.

Johnson said Taiwan is among the top five Idaho wheat export markets, and is also a major importer of Gem State potatoes, wine and organic and natural products. She said Taiwan has a growing middle class. Vietnam also has a growing economy and has been especially active in building its domestic dairy industry.

Johnson said Vinamilk, a Vietnamese company seeking to increase its dairy production, will meet with 50X Cattle, based in Terreton, about purchasing dairy cows. Furthermore, WinStar Genetics, based in Shelley, will pitch embryo implants as a means of improving Vinamilk’s production.

Greg Andersen, an American Falls dairyman involved in WinStar, said the company’s genetics come from the top 5 percent of U.S. Holsteins.

“I think (Vietnam) is trying to grow their dairy industry, and one way to do that is to improve genetics,” Andersen said.

Jeremiah Clark, who supplies quinoa raised in Eastern Idaho, will be visiting Taiwan only. ISDA’s office in Taiwan has set up meetings for Clark with eight potential buyers.

“We’ve talked a little bit with a company in Taiwan, but this will be our first big marketing push to see what we can get done there,” said Clark, who hopes to eventually supply up to 15 percent of the 300 tons of quinoa imported annually by Taiwan.


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