Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Secretary Ross on USDA Agricultural Trade Mission to Southeast Asia

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross (r) in Southeast Asia with USDA Undersecretary Alexis Taylor and Ambassador Brian McFeeters (ret.),of the US-ASEAN Business Council

By CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

This week it was a pleasure to join USDA Undersecretary Alexis Taylor and more than 25 companies on an agricultural trade mission to Malaysia and Singapore. These markets represent great opportunities for California exports and serve as a gateway to the greater Southeast Asian market. California’s agricultural exports to the region are valued at approximately $2.5 billion – with dairy, fresh fruit and tree nuts among the top exports.

The visit was an opportunity to celebrate longstanding trade relationships and build new business connections within the export community.  Our schedule included roundtable discussions with importers and retailers, meetings with foreign representatives of U.S agricultural trade associations, and engagement with the US ASEAN Business Council in Singapore.  I also had the opportunity to visit a leading dairy plant and a bakery facility in Malaysia that both use U.S. agricultural ingredients.   

One aspect of the mission that truly resonated with me was a presentation by the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers underscoring the importance of Halal certification. It is a unique value proposition that is a critical aspect of the food and beverage sector in Malaysia and the larger Southeast Asian market. As a speaker from Nestle noted – Halal is not just about meat – it is a market waiting for a diversity of products as well as an acknowledgement of the culture. Halal certification can be applied to many products, from fresh fruits and wine to health supplements.  

This mission served to underscore the market development opportunities that California’s agricultural exporters and trade associations can leverage in the region with the USDA’s new $1.3B investment in the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. California’s farmers and ranchers, with their diversity of high-quality products, are well-positioned to meet growing international consumer needs while supporting local communities through job growth and expanded economic activity.

This visit was a great opportunity to support California agricultural trade and the farmers and ranchers who make our state the leading agricultural exporter in the nation.

Special thanks to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service for the amazing work they do in supporting U.S. agricultural businesses.

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