WASHINGTON — Staying true to its mission of expanding U.S. agricultural and food exports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service started the final month of 2022 with a bang. The Spain Agricultural Trade Mission was the largest and most diverse the agency organized this year. More than 70 participants from various businesses, cooperator groups, and state and federal government spent a week in Madrid fostering important business connections to grow U.S. exports to Spain and neighboring Portugal.
“With nearly 300 meetings between U.S. exporters and their counterparts from Spain and Portugal, I can truly say that this trade mission was a tremendous success,” said FAS Associate Administrator Clay Hamilton who served as the head of delegation on the mission. “In addition to business discussions, it was extremely helpful to have an opportunity to connect with Spanish government representatives to discuss how our countries can better align our joint efforts to tackle climate change and food security issues.”
The agribusiness participants took full advantage of the opportunities offered by the trade mission to expand their exports. “Trade missions are phenomenal for growing business,” said Aris Derksen, Managing Director of Blue Diamond Growers. “With USDA involvement, the trade mission becomes very high level and provides an amazing combination of real politics with business and is taken very seriously from day one.”
David Pick of Pennington Distilling echoed that sentiment. “It was our first experience of a trade mission. Although the tangible benefits will take a couple of months to emerge, we gained a lot of market knowledge immediately from the diverse range of meetings arranged for us,” he said. “In 48 hours, I was able to present our brand to more than 12 potential partners for Spain and Portugal. In my 35 years’ experience of introducing products to new markets, that would normally have taken 6 months and a lot of international travel.”
In addition to the business meetings, the delegation members also had a chance to meet with the Spain Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Spanish Federation of Food and Drink Industries. State government representatives from 11 states also had an opportunity to speak to ASAJA, Spain’s association of young farmers, about common obstacles faced by farmers in both countries, and ways to overcome them.
Trade mission participants received a lot of information about working with Spanish companies and even had an opportunity to visit local business facilities to see how U.S. products are packaged and marketed in Spain. While all these meetings and trips were jam-packed into one week, the long-term benefits to businesses and international cooperation are expected to last for many years to come, building an even stronger connection between the United States and Spain.