Published online: Dec 30, 2009
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A joint Washington-Oregon agricultural trade mission was indeed a cross-cultural experience for the visitors as well as the target markets in four Asian cities in November. Organized by the Washington and Oregon potato commissions, the purpose of the 12-day mission was to introduce those markets to Northwest potato varieties and recipes that show the varieties at their tasty best. It also was an introduction to those Asian markets to new Washington Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse.
The retail and foodservice promotion extended through Taiwan, Manila, Hong Kong and Macau, visiting fresh markets, chain restaurants and retail outlets such as Costco. The group also conducted seminars and cooking demonstrations for prospective buyers. Meetings with importers and USDA Agricultural Trade Office government officials covered topics such as phytosanitary and other import regulations and tariff issues.
In Taiwan, Oregon Potato Commissioner Chef Leif Benson, executive chef at Timberline Lodge, took Italian cooking to a new level by using very thinly sliced potato to replace pasta in original recipes demonstrated and served to fresh potato importers/distributors, retail chains and hotel restaurant operators. In the Philippines the group reconnected with participants from earlier trade missions to the Northwest, researching both fresh and processed potatoes.
The group visited a traditional Hong Kong wet market, retailing fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood, where they gained an understanding of how wet markets play an important role in everyday life in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. As Asia's only full-service casino destination, Macau attracts visitors from all over the world and has become more upscale offering high end dining-and opportunities.
Subsequently, mission members are following up with the contacts made and seeking additional means to introduce new Northwest potato varieties and increase western style potato dishes into the Asian diet.