U.S. agricultural producers have their eyes on India

Lee Taylor, vice president of Premium Peanut in Georgia, traveled to India recently on a U.S.-led trade mission to learn more about the peanut market there. “Everyone we met was very eager to learn how to import more American products,” Taylor said.

U.S. agricultural exports to India have grown nearly 250 percent over the past decade. U.S. companies, like Taylor’s, are eager to tap into that growing interest.

India is the second most populous country in the world, with a growing middle class. Its consumer incomes are growing too, creating an increased demand for high-quality food products. Meanwhile, the U.S. is the world’s largest food exporter. U.S. farmers ensure a safe and steady food supply to their customers around the world.

People walking down a street lined with businesses in Mumbai, India (Shutterstock)

In October 2017, Taylor joined more than 50 U.S. agricultural and business leaders as they traveled to New Delhi and Mumbai (above), drumming up new deals for several days.

U.S. agricultural exports to India — mainly tree nuts, cotton, prepared foods, and fresh and prepared fruits — totaled nearly $1.3 billion in sales in 2016.

Business-minded meetings

Some 650 face-to-face meetings took place between the Americans and their Indian counterparts over the five days. The Americans met representatives from more than 150 Indian companies, setting a record for the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service. Potential customers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also attended the meetings.

“The response has been nothing short of overwhelming — warm and embracing at all levels,” said Ted McKinney, an official with the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, who led the delegation.

“Some of our delegates were feeling out how they might do business here for the first time, while others were finding ways to enhance existing trade that they already have. And I think we all came away with the feeling that we have many great opportunities for trade,” McKinney said.

“Increased heft in our economic relationship would necessarily provide a broader and deeper, long-term U.S. commitment to India and the Indo-Pacific region.”
U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster
New Delhi, January 11, 2018

Supply and demand

Back in his home state of Georgia, Taylor said he is working with customers he met on the trip, and he hopes to start exporting peanut oil in late 2018.

Building relationships with potential customers was a key goal for Graham Lacerte from Pacific Valley Foods in Bellevue, Washington. “We went to get a better picture of what food products they needed and to learn how to customize our service for buyers. And they were very open and honest with us on what products would or wouldn’t be popular in their market.”

Lacerte said he is following up on several sales opportunities at the moment. “We are very confident that we can supply them with the products they need,” he said.