Agri-businesses benefit from trade trip

Sean Ellis/Capital Press Jonathan Price, international sales manager for Pickett Equipment, discusses the companyÕs edible bean harvesting equipment with leaders of major Mexican bean cooperatives on Dec. 9 in Mexico City.

Idaho dealers seize opportunities in Mexico, Brazil

By SEAN ELLIS

Capital Press

MEXICO CITY -- Pickett Equipment is a good example of how farm equipment dealers and other agriculture-related businesses fared during Idaho's Dec. 3-10 trade mission to Brazil and Mexico.

The visit didn't result in any immediate sales for Pickett, which manufactures edible bean harvesting equipment, but company officials met with key industry representatives and leaders of major bean cooperatives in Mexico who expressed a lot of interest in their products.

"We were able to meet with people who are significant producers down there and I thought the mission was very productive and insightful," said Pickett General Manager Neil Harper. "The trip completely exceeded our expectations of what we would get out of it."

Pickett sells about 20 pieces of equipment in Mexico each year and is looking for a new dealer network to expand sales there.

The co-op leaders invited Pickett officials to return to Mexico to demonstrate some of their equipment and Harper says being able to view first-hand the different growing practices and soil types in Mexico "makes a big difference in being able to specialize our equipment to fit their needs."

Mexico is an established market for Industrial Ventilation Inc., which sells storage and climate-control systems for the potato, onion, sugar beet and carrot industries, but Brazil is new territory.

Mike Machurek, the company's sales and marketing manager, said there is a lot of potential in Brazil because the country lacks the forced-air ventilation systems his business builds, but gaining a foothold there is going to take return visits and follow-up.

He said the opportunities in Brazil are similar to the Mexican market when company officials first visited that country 10 years ago. Industrial had some success four years after that initial visit and then substantial success two years later.

"There is quite a bit of opportunity in Brazil," Machurek said. "I think it's going to be the same as it was with the Mexico market 10 years ago. It's going to take six to 10 years of pioneering the territory to make it work."

During a visit to one of Brazil's largest markets, fresh fruit and vegetable vendors showed significant interest in Industrial's ventilation systems, said Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer.

"When they heard about Industrial Ventilation's refrigeration techniques, they got very, very excited," he said.

Officials with Glanbia Foods who joined the Mexico leg of the trade mission met with representatives of some of the largest dairy and cheese processors in Mexico. Glanbia is one of the largest producers of American-style cheese and whey-based ingredients and Mexico is the largest export destination for the company's cheese.

Wilf Costello, Glanbia's executive vice president, said the chance to speak with existing customers in person strengthened those relationships.

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