When buyers have the opportunity to see safety and quality firsthand, it usually leads to more purchases.
For years, America has dubbed the peanut our favorite nut. But how is it spreading in popularity across the globe? Great taste alone does not account for increased demand. Organizations such as the Texas Peanut Producers Board, American Peanut Council and others work hard to boost international relations.
According to the APC, the United States exported nearly $470 million in peanut products in 2012, almost a 30 percent increase from 2011. Undoubtedly, some of this growth can be accounted for by export relation efforts.
Export statistics directly reflect the benefit. Mexico is the third-largest importer of American peanuts and accounted for $77 million in exports for 2012. This was not the case before efforts were made to build relationships.
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In 2003, peanut exports dropped to less than 16,000 metric tons, making Mexico one of the lowest-ranked importing countries. Aggressive action was needed to improve export possibilities.
Shelly Nutt, TPPB Executive Director, says the logical tactic to improve export numbers was to let visitors from Mexico see firsthand the safety, care and quality of American-grown peanuts.
“It was equally important for Mexican manufacturers to be given the opportunity to build relations with leaders in the American peanut industry and to meet the farmers that are responsible for growing safe, quality peanuts,” Nutt says.
“We started hosting this tour in 2005,” Nutt says. “It was a small tour of Mexican manufacturers that had not been buying many American-grown peanuts because of price.”
APC and TPPB worked to organize tour stops, grower visits and determine key foreign industry contacts. The partnership gave Mexican manufacturers a glimpse of American peanut production.
The organizations’ efforts paid off. Following the first tour, exports to Mexico increased by nearly 11,000 metric tons.
“We have seen peanut sales into Mexico skyrocket,” Nutt says. “This past year, we exported nearly 55,000 metric tons, four times the exports from nine years ago and are expecting a 12,000 metric ton increase for 2013.”
The APC continues to bring manufacturers from Mexico, and Texas has hosted the tour seven of the past nine years. The visits have resulted in strong friendships, purchasing loyalty and knowledge of the American peanut industry.
Stephanie Grunenfelder, vice president of international marketing for APC, works with all export relations but generally focuses on targeted regions, including Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan. Recently, the APC found market potential in Colombia.
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“The United States passed a free trade agreement with Colombia,” Grunenfelder says. The new agreement, paired with Colombia’s emerging market, made the country an ideal focus.
After an exploratory trip in November 2012, major buyers in Colombia were identified and invited to Lubbock, Texas. After the visit, Carlos Ignacio Sanchez Alvarez, a Colombian tour participant, says he was able to learn the culture, the process and the availability of peanuts and enjoyed meeting suppliers in an environment of trust and friendship.
“At the end of the day, our ultimate goal is to sell more U.S.-grown peanuts,” Nutt says. “Tour participants expressing their commitment to buy American peanuts make our efforts worthwhile.”
Through continued industry support of APC export activities, America’s favorite nut will become recognized worldwide as the leader in safety, value and consistent quality.
Article submitted by the Texas Peanut Producers Board