Michigan puts export information in one place online


Farmers now might find it easier to export their commodities to other countries.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development collaborated with Euromonitor International — a research organization that shares data and analysis on the agricultural industry globally — and last month launched MIAgExport.com.

The free website allows Michigan companies to explore export opportunities, including new markets, by examining countries’ projected population growth, demographics, export competition, economies, historic and forecasted consumption trends, and global trade. In addition to the research component, there is an interactive map tracker.

“When over 90 percent of the (world) population lives outside the United States, this is a great way for us to, hopefully, get some of our products to consumers in those marketplaces and to identify unique needs and move forward with some opportunities there,” said Kate Thiel, field crops and advisory team specialist at the Michigan Farm Bureau.

The commodity reports and data cover different categories, including alcoholic beverages, apples, blueberries, dairy, dry beans, breakfast bars, honey, hops, onions, pickled products, popcorn, potatoes, tart cherries, wine, snacks and savory foods.

Blueberries, for example, primarily are grown in Ottawa, Muskegon and Berrien counties. In 2016, the state produced 110 million pounds of blueberries and about 50 percent were shipped to different national and international markets, according to MDARD.

Michigan exported 17.8 percent of its blueberries to the United Kingdom, 11.5 percent to Taiwan and 10.5 percent to China in 2016, which is the most recent data available on MIAgExport’s website.

Emerging markets for blueberries include South Korea, the Netherlands, China and the United Arab Emirates.

Michigan produces 75 percent of the country’s tart cherries and 20 percent of its sweet cherries, according to MDARD, with a large amount of those grown in Traverse City.

According to the recent MIAgExport data, Michigan exported 65.5 percent of its tart cherries to Belgium, with smaller percentages going to Germany and Canada in 2016.

Some of the emerging markets for tart cherries include South Korea, China, the Philippines and Thailand.

Pam Miller from United Hops Brokerage in Greenville said she was unaware of the program, but she said like other MDARD export programs, she expects this program to be user-friendly to companies that export.

She said United Hops Brokerage now exports to China, but building that relationship took a while. Miller said MDARD experts walked her through the painstaking process, which took more than a year to develop. She added having much of the basic information available in one place should help speed the process.

Jamie Zmitko, international export manager at MDARD, agreed.

“We are doing this to basically provide export intel to a number of companies around Michigan, which they may not be able to do on their own,” Zmitko said. “We are doing this as a way to help them to be more savvy exporters, so they can figure out which export markets provide the most opportunities for them.”

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