Chengdu, China

The International Trade Administration proclaimed the month of May as “World Trade Month”. The Central Florida International Trade Office celebrated by hosting a visiting delegation from China.

China is the largest market for U.S. food and farm products – U.S. agricultural exports to the country tripled over the last decade, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all foreign sales of U.S. agricultural products. 1 Now, as China has a population four times the United States with 80% as much crop land, and begins to relax the “one-child” policy and have a growing middle-class, the market for agricultural imports appears even stronger. Central Florida companies need to take advantage of these opportunities.

Between May 21st and May 27th, eight hotel food and beverage buyers from Chengdu, China visited Central Florida through the Cochran Fellowship Program. The Foreign Agricultural Service sponsors the program which promotes agricultural development and provides educational opportunities to leaders from developing countries. The delegation had the opportunity to tour Showcase of Citrus, Deseret Ranches, Lake Meadow Naturals, and Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center and learned about the Citrus, Cattle, Dairy, and Hospitality industries of Central Florida.

On May 22nd, the delegation met seven Central Florida companies at the National Entrepreneur Center in a focused trade event hosted by Osceola County and the Central Florida International Trade Office. The goal was to help Central Florida’s small and medium-sized food and beverage companies connect to new trade partners and sell quality U.S. products. The delegation met with companies interested in exporting coffee, beef, powdered drink mixes, vegetables, spices, cheese, and orange juice to China. All the exporting companies believe they are highly likely or somewhat likely to have obtained new business from the event.

The USDA host from Washington State did not realize the potential of Central Florida companies before the visit, but he has promised to bring more delegations tot he region to meet with potential exporters. In this way, the Central Florida International Trade Office hopes to ensure Central Florida’s competitiveness and celebrate World Trade Month all year long.