Wyoming companies visit Taiwan for trade mission

By: 
Wyoming News Exchange

By Chrissy Suttles

Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

CHEYENNE – Four Wyoming producers joined Business Council representatives and Gov. Matt Mead on a trade mission to Taipei, Taiwan, to meet with potential buyers last week.

The trip was part of the Wyoming Business Council’s efforts to open the state up to international trade with the Asian Pacific Rim, first focusing on agricultural exports, such as beef. New Wyoming-Asia Pacific Trade Office Director Chester Chu facilitated the meetings.

Participating companies were Powell’s Murraymere Farms and Gluten Free Harvest, Casper’s True Ranches and Pine Bluffs’ Wyoming Malting Company.

Sellers met with wholesalers, grocers, import companies, meat processors and restaurants during the four-day trip, which was funded by the Business Council and the State Trade and Export Promotion program. Total costs of the trade mission, including company travel expenses, was roughly $54,000, according to Ron Gullberg, business development director of the Business Council. That amount was split evenly between the STEP program and the Business Council.

The Wyoming Legislature allotted $400,000 from the state’s general fund this year to encourage the export of products and services from the state to national and international markets.

“There was a Memorandum of Understanding signed that said we are going to continue to pursue a small, steady supply of beef to Taiwan,” said Tom Dixon, marketing manager for the Business Council.

Valerie Murray of Murraymere Farms said she was originally approached by Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, to determine if the family-owned farm was prepared to send beef samples to a potential buyer. Because the farm happened to have cattle ready, partners seized the opportunity.

Murray said she believes the trade deal will help increase profit margins and position the state internationally – as incomes rise in Taiwan, so does the taste for American beef.

Murraymere trucks animals hundreds of miles away, which is expensive and hard on cattle, she said. As delivery costs rise, profits shrink. Establishing interpersonal relationships with Taiwanese buyers may allow the state’s beef market to develop a large packing plant closer to home to increase profitability.

“At the current market, many farmers and producers are breaking even at best with our ag commodities,” Murray said. “If we could get a packing plant in Wyoming so producers don’t have to haul out of state, it would not only boost the economy, but provide more jobs to our state. This would save a significant amount of shipping for each producer.”

During an evening event attended by Mead, she said the Murraymere beef that was served was a “huge success.”

“The Taiwan attendees fell in love with Wyoming beef and can’t wait to be served more,” she said.

Chad Brown with Wyoming Malting Company said he met with Taiwanese brewery owners, who all asked for samples in the coming months.

“I brought malt samples and some beer for the local breweries,” he said. “The feedback was extremely positive. All three brewers wanted us to make a sample batch, so that’s going to be one of my focuses.”

Brown said notably low shipping costs are one of many benefits his company expects to enjoy if a contract is signed.

“It’s almost cheaper for me to ship to Taiwan than to Utah,” he said. “Shipping rates are extremely cheap.”

Dixon said other companies had equally successful experiences, although it’s unlikely any contracts will be signed immediately.

“I think one of the Taiwanese companies supplied oatmeal cups to hospitals, so they were interested in talking with Gluten Free Harvest,” he said. “Chu was there making those connections, and the buyers had specific interests. These are good initial face-to-face conversations that can lead to exports down the road.”

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