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Opening doors: US trade mission aims to unlock Japanese potato market

USDA announced this week that Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor will lead an agricultural trade mission to Japan next week, June 5-8. The delegation includes a wide representation of the U.S. agriculture sector, including representatives from the Idaho Potato Commission and agency leaders from potato-growing states.

Noting that Japan is the fourth-largest market for U.S. food and agricultural exports, Under Secretary Taylor said in a release, “As one of the world’s leading economies, Japan is an important market for U.S. food and agriculture exports. It is an incredible honor to lead this delegation as we work to expand our bilateral trade relationship even further.”

“This trade mission couldn’t have come at a better time for the U.S. potato industry’s efforts to open the Japan market for U.S. fresh potatoes,” said National Potato Council VP of Trade Affairs Ted Tschirky, a potato grower from Pasco, Wash.

“The industry has elevated the importance of opening this $150-250 million market with our partners in the Administration and Congress. This mission will be an opportunity to communicate directly with regulators and potential partners in Japan of the value that U.S. fresh potatoes can provide their consumers and businesses.”

Japan is the second largest export market for U.S. potatoes (frozen and fresh potatoes for processing), with exports reaching a record $388 million in sales in 2022. The current ban prevents U.S. potato growers from exporting fresh potatoes to Japan despite nearly three decades of negotiations.

According to USDA, trade mission participants will engage directly with potential buyers, receive in-depth market briefings from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and industry trade experts, and participate in site visits.

Participants include Idaho Potato Commission Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Sam Eaton; Idaho State Director of Agriculture Chanel Tewalt; Nebraska Director of Agriculture Sherry Vinton; North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring; and officials from California, Maine Washington, and Wisconsin state departments of agriculture, among others.

Source: USDA/FAS

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