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Northwest busy promoting potato trade

by Lora Abcarian | August 05, 2010
Representatives from the Pacific Northwest have full schedules this summer and fall as they promote the region's potatoes.

Matt Harris, director of trade for the Washington State Potato Commission, concluded a three-day trip at the end of July to attend a hearing of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which is reviewing dumping duties placed upon fresh U.S. potatoes exported to British Columbia. "Our position as a commission is to remove those dumping duties and let a free market for fresh potatoes occur in that region," Mr. Harris told The Produce News.

The commission is also participating in Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire’s trade mission to China and Vietnam, which will take place Sept. 13-24. Officials are seeking to open market access for fresh potatoes, and Mr. Harris said that the process began about a decade ago.

“In Vietnam, it’s more of a celebration in that we have worked with the Vietnamese government as a U.S. industry to open market access,” Mr. Harris said. “So now fresh potatoes and chipping potatoes can be fully marketed to that region.”

Mr. Harris will be joined by Bill Brewer, executive director of the Oregon Potato Commission, at a food show in Macau, China, at the end of October. “We will be promoting fresh potatoes at some stores in Hong Kong,” Mr. Harris said. They will be joined by Leif Benson, retired executive chef of Oregon’s famed Timberline Lodge. Mr. Benson is currently serving as a commissioner with the Oregon Potato Commission. “It really works out well with his culinary knowledge of fresh potatoes,” Mr. Harris said.