USDA-funded Food Export USA-Northeast participated at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition (NACE) in Boston, Massachusetts in January, its maiden appearance at an aquaculture trade show.
“This is a new initiative for us,” Colleen Coyne, seafood program coordinator told Aquaculture North America (ANA). “We’ve been working with the wild harvest side of the seafood industry for many years. Now that there’s aquaculture operations in the region with a sizeable enough production to have exportable supplies, we thought it made sense to do outreach work to inform these aquaculture operations what kind of support services and funding is available if they want to sell in foreign markets.”
Launched in 1973, Food Export USA’s services include export promotion, customized export assistance and a cost-share funding program. It has offices around the world, including in Hong Kong, from which extensive promotion work of other seafood products from the northeast region was done.
“We have good success introducing US seafood products to China and we could definitely help shellfish growers. We helped introduce lobster to China a few years ago and it’s now the top market for lobsters until the tariffs retaliation situation.”
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At the January event in Boston, Coyne was pleased with the warm reception to the team’s presence. She made a presentation of their mission and services to a packed room. “We’ve had a lot of conversations here. This is our first actual big outreach attempt and we’ve made a lot of great connections and we already have companies, mostly oyster growers, signing up for meeting with buyers and activities we have in spring,” she said.
She and her team will be back in Boston for the Seafood Expo North America event in March with a delegation of seafood buyers from around the world. “We’ll be doing a seminar on oysters for foreign buyers to provide them an overview of the northeast industry. There’ll be mixers so they can meet with oyster farmers here.”
The anticipated resumption of shellfish trade between the United States and the European Union this year (see page 1) could make the non-profit’s services even more attractive for US shellfish farmers.
Coyne acknowledged however that the export market might not be for everyone. “We have learning tools for people to see whether exporting their products makes sense for them,” she said. She invited aquaculture producers in the northeast to contact the Food Export USA – Northeast office. “And if you’re outside the northeast we have counterpart organizations around the country that administer the same funding,” she said. More information is available at www.Foodexport.org.