Exports of Washington-grown products have reached a new high.
Washington food exports were worth $1.91 billion in the last quarter of 2010, a figure matched by the first quarter of this year.
"We have worked incredibly hard to promote Washington products and increase our exports, most recently with a 10-day trade mission to China and Vietnam," says Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Our efforts have paid off."
She commends the state's producers who she says "have rightly earned the reputation of producing the finest quality products in the world."
Food export sales to China and Hong Kong grew to $247 million during the recent October-March period, up 29% from $191 million the same period in 2009/10.
Gov. Gregoire has charged the Washington State Department of Agriculture with expanding exports of farm products as a component of her Washington Export Initiative. WSDA has set a goal to assist an additional 1,000 food and ag companies to make $300 million in export sales by 2015.
Numerous factors contributed to the recent success story: leading Washington commodities had large harvests in 2010, while the low value dollar made U.S. farm commodities more competitive in the marketplace. Global demand for Washington products remains strong, according to the WSDA.
"Because our growers produce the highest quality foods at competitive prices, they continue to win new customers all over the world," says WSDA Director Dan Newhouse. "Washington's agricultural economy has long depended on international customers for a considerably share of revenues, so the return of record export sales is great news.
"With our strategic location, ideal growing conditions and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, we're poised to pursue our numerous advantages."
From Oct. 1 to March 31, the leading export destinations for Washington agricultural products, dollar value of those exports, and top three export commodities were:
• Japan: $794 million (wheat hay, potatoes)
• Canada: $592 million (seafood, apples, vegetables)
• China/Hong Kong: $274 million (seafood, potatoes, apples)
• Philippines: $211 million (wheat, dairy, potatoes)
• Taiwan: $187 million (wheat, apples, potatoes)
• Mexico: $152 million (apples, dairy, potatoes)
• Indonesia: $150 million (wheat, apples, dairy)• Korea: $140 million (hay, potatoes, animal products).