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IEOOC Export Committee expands programs through Specialty Crop Grants

Although exports represent a smaller portion of their overall sales, those members of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee who do sell outside the United States are seeing increased market share thanks to expanding programs through government grants.

Candi Fitch, executive director of the IEOOC, works with the Export Committee in securing those grants, and she explained how the program is growing.

“The Export Committee has worked diligently over the years to continue to grow the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Export Program,” Fitch said. “Mexico and Canada are the primary countries the area exports to, but the Export Committee and the shippers are always looking for new market share and to increase market share in the existing countries.”

Fitch has been at the head of the committee’s grant program, and she said, “The past several years, with money the Export Committee has received through Specialty Crop Grants, it has been able to increase its activities and presence in many areas. The Specialty Crops the Committee receives are administered through the Idaho State Department of Agriculture from funding received through the farm bill.”

She continued, “From 2004 and including the 2017 grant that we are waiting final USDA approval on, the committee has received about $200,000 in grant money for its export programs.”  

Specific promotions include one for yellow onions that has been in place since 2014.

“The committee has used the funding to offer each season a yellow onion promotion in Mexico that brings awareness of yellow onions to the retail and foodservice segments through activities such as in-store demos, menu promotions and chef training at Mexican culinary institutes,” Fitch explained.

“During the months of the promotion IMALINX (an international marketing firm for the produce, food and beverage industries and cooperator for the program) visits with wholesalers, helping to educate them on the availability and quality of Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onions.”

In addition to the important yellow onion promos, the committee has also participated in trade missions to Central America, Mexico and Taiwan.

And, Fitch said, “Committee members have also had the opportunity to participate in Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s trade missions and are scheduled to attend Gov. Otter’s mission to Taiwan this coming November.”

She concluded, “The Export Committee is also looking forward to additional upcoming activities and will participate in the 21st Americas Food and Beverage Show in Miami in September and then exhibit at the second Annual Taiwan Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Trade Show from Nov. 9- 11, just prior to the Governor’s trade mission. And the committee.”