For Immediate Release: September 24, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Elaine Lidholm, 804.786.7686, Elaine.Lidholm@vdacs.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Announces New Agricultural Product Exports to Canada

 

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced new export sales for Virginia agricultural and food products into Canada on the closing day of a two-day trade and tourism mission.  

Over the last several months, international marketing staff at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia's Toronto-based agricultural trade representative, Argyle Communications, worked with several Virginia specialty food producers to achieve new international sales from the Commonwealth. The trade deals represent new revenue streams for the exporting companies into the important Canadian market, the second largest export market for Virginia agricultural and forestry products. 

Speaking about the new agricultural exports as he finishes the mission to Canada, Governor McAuliffe said, "One of my top economic development priorities in building a new Virginia economy is to work with Virginia businesses, foreign purchasers, and government leaders from around the world to find new trade opportunities and make Virginia the East Coast capital for agricultural and forestry product exports.  Today’s announcement is another step in reaching those goals.  I’m pleased to see these new deals to Canada, which has long been a top customer of Virginia products and a place we have placed a strong emphasis on given its close proximity and easy shipping routes.  Growing exports here and elsewhere provide more revenue and job creation opportunities for Virginia’s producers and agribusinesses.” 

In addition to meetings conducted by the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Commerce and Trade Secretary Maurice Jones, Governor McAuliffe, along with Agriculture and Forestry Secretary Todd Haymore, and VDACS and Argyle staff, met with Canadian importers to promote Virginia’s agricultural products.  

“Export sales from smaller agribusinesses and family-owned agricultural operations are an important component to Virginia’s trade portfolio" said Secretary Haymore.  "Assisting these businesses, which are the backbone of Virginia’s economy and create the majority of jobs in the Commonwealth, has been a priority for the Governor and our international marketing and development teams in Virginia and our network of trade offices around the world.  With more than 80 percent of the world’s consumer base living outside of the United States and with every one dollar in exports from Virginia generating about $1.30 within state, it’s clear why growing exports are key to the Governor’s work to build a new Virginia economy.” 

The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg is a specialty food company that has benefited from Virginia’s international agricultural resources.  The 40-year old company produces gourmet flavored peanuts, chocolate, brittle, cakes, and pet treats made by hand and honor Virginia traditions and heritage.  Working with The Peanut Shop, VDACS and Argyle helped secure a trade deal with Kasseler Food Products Inc., an importer and direct store distributor that supplies to major retailers, specialty shops, drug stores, convenience stores, and gift basket companies.  The two companies first met at the SIAL Canada trade show in 2014 through pre-arranged meetings organized by Argyle.  The Peanut Shop products are now available through Kasseler at Canadian retailers such as Winners, Homesense. and TJ Maxx. 

Charlottesville-based Bone Doctors’ Barbeque Sauce is another Virginia company working with VDACS’ international trade network.  The company, founded by two orthopedic surgeons who decided to turn their culinary curiosities into “the cure for the common barbeque,” has developed a gourmet line of sauces and spices.  In April, Bone Doctors exhibited with VDACS at the SIAL Canada trade show where they also met Kasseler Foods and subsequently secured a deal for Kasseler to distribute the gourmet products nationally. 

VDACS and the Canadian trade representatives have worked with Montebello Kitchens, another Charlottesville-based, specialty food manufacturer, to secure a new trade relationship with Canadian food distributor, National Importers.  The deal, a result of meetings set up by Argyle at SIAL Canada in 2015, will ensure national distribution of four of Montebello Kitchens’ products in Canada.  National Importers is a privately owned, full-service sales, marketing and distribution company that services North America’s grocery, big box, and drug store channels. 

In additional to the new specialty food export deals, Governor McAuliffe continued efforts to increase exports of Virginia seafood products, craft beer, and wine to Canada.  During the mission, Governor McAuliffe, Secretary Haymore, and VDACS and Argyle staff met with representatives from seafood importing companies and with the alcohol regulatory bodies for the provinces of both Quebec and Ontario.  Virginia international marketing staff will facilitate dialogue between the Canadian entities and Virginia agribusinesses in hopes of reaching new export deals of these products and others. 

Agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia reached a record high of $3.35 billion in 2014, an increase of more than 14 percent from 2013.  Canada is the second largest market for Virginia's agriculture and forestry products with more than $279 million in exports in 2014, a 7 percent increase over the 2013 level.  This figure is expected to rise for calendar year 2015 based on data from the first six months of the year.

 

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