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Winery, food business owners being paired with foreign buyers

SEATTLE – Matching Washington’s wineries and food businesses with qualified foreign buyers is no easy task even with the state’s reputation for producing high quality, safe products already exported to numerous trading partners.

To help, the Washington State Department of Agriculture has scheduled meetings in early September with foreign buyers looking for Evergreen State wines and specialty retail foods.

According to meeting organizers, there is still space available for Washington businesses wishing to attend.

WSDA foreign-based trade representatives are currently interviewing and selecting 20 buyers who will travel from Japan, China, Korea and Mexico to meet in Seattle on Sept. 9-10, with companies wanting to export.

“We help Washington companies export and one way to accomplish that is to present our food industry business owners with qualified buyers,” said Allison Kohlhorst, manager of WSDA’s International Marketing Program.

“We’re matching our domestic suppliers of wines, craft beers, honey, frozen berries - to name a few - with countries that already have consumer demand for Washington products.”

Many of the Washington companies that have signed up thus far also participated in WSDA-sponsored export clinics held in April to learn about markets in Asia and Mexico.

To register for the export buyer meetings, contact Julie Johnson at jjohnson@agr.wa.gov or (360) 902-1940.

“The international buyers will sample Washington’s products, explore new business partnerships and go on several trade-based site visits in the Seattle area,” Kohlhorst said.

The events are funded by a federal grant from the state trade and export promotion program developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. WSDA works with the Washington State Department of Commerce to implement the grant.

WSDA’s trade specialists assisted more than 200 small and medium-sized firms make international sales totaling $120 million in 2012, up from $94 million in WSDA-assisted sales the previous year.

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