Tariffs, such as those used as economic weapons in the U.S.-China trade war, are “severely impacting” the potential for growth of USDA certified-organic produce export sales.
That’s according to a report by online trade magazine FoodIngredientsFirst, owned by Amsterdam-based CNS Media Group B.V., which surveyed several U.S. exporters of organic products at this week’s Anuga 2019 trade show in Cologne, Germany.
“The U.S. farm economy is not economically strong right now,” said Marcus Carlin, CFO of Everbest Organics, a producer of organic legumes. “The demand for organic produce is there, but obviously these tariffs are hurting the growth of our export business. We are here [at Anuga] to promote U.S.-organically grown products and try to maintain good business relationships and maintain a presence amid these difficult business conditions.”
Munger, Mich.-based Everbest has been certified organic by Ecocert ICO since 2015 for beans, dried beans, common wheat, corn, soybean, and wheat.
The U.S. organic industry trade group, the Organic Trade Association (OTA), is hosting a pavilion for U.S. organic companies at the show, which runs through Thursday.
Another Anuga attendee is Royal Ridge Fruits, a producer and co-packer of organic, dried and frozen fruit products based in Royal City, Wash., which was certified organic in 2007 by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
“[Due to the US-China trade war] we’ve missed an opportunity to attend a trade show in this year. I skipped attending SIAL China, because it just didn’t make any sense, as we’re uncertain about what the current duties are. We chose not to go because the duties are fluctuating,” Thomas Bauer, vice president industrial sales of Royal Ridge, told FoodIngredientsFirst.
“It’s a big world, and we want to make sure that we’re spreading our customer base beyond Asia. Our blueberries are particularly popular in China. Currently, we’ve also got customers in Hong Kong, Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia,” Bauer said. “In the U.S. market, organic is particularly tough to sell in the Midwest, with the exception of Texas. We go into the major markets – the Pacific Northwest, California. As soon as you begin to branching away into Florida or the Northeast, like New York, there is not much.”
Ricky Bala-Shaw, a sales agent at Wilsonville, Ore.-based foodguys, a broker specializing in sourcing ingredients globally, including organics, underscored the importance of listening to customers’ concerns.
“We’ll always play by the rules, we’re not trying to undercut anyone. Sometimes we’ll have a customer that only wants to source from a certain country, so that is the criteria that we will need to meet. If they want to avoid a certain country because of said tariff wars or price hikes, then we will do that as well,” Bala-Shaw said.
Read the full article by FoodIngredientsFirst.