SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Contacts made on the Illinois Grain Tour may pay immediate dividends for Illinois agribusinesses. The foreign buyers who took part in the five-day trade mission are projecting purchases of more than $52 million from these businesses in the next year.
“Our staff's efforts to bring buyers and sellers together produced extraordinary results this year,” Bob Flider, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said. “The previous three tours combined produced $25 million in sales, so these results are very encouraging. They indicate there is strong demand for Illinois grain and grain-related products and services in foreign markets.”
The tour, which the department conducts annually, was held Sept. 10-14 and brought 22 foreign grain buyers to Illinois from China, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. Stops included an Auburn corn and soybean farm, an Assumption manufacturer of grain storage structures, a Mattoon grain, oilseed and food ingredient supplier and a Hennepin ethanol plant.
“Our challenge now is to build upon the relationships started on this year’s tour and turn these initial sales into repeat business,” Flider added.
Exports are crucial to Illinois’ agricultural economy, accounting for 39 percent of the industry’s cash receipts. In fiscal year 2010, the state sold $5.8 billion in agricultural products overseas, making it the fourth-leading agricultural exporter in the United States.
The grain tour is just one of the strategies the department uses to find markets for Illinois products, support agriculture-based employment and strengthen the Illinois economy.
Last fiscal year, for example, it participated in 13 international and domestic trade shows, led five foreign buyers’ missions and industry tours, facilitated 5,474 buyer-seller introductions and disseminated 1,741 trade leads to Illinois companies.
These activities generated $71 million in actual sales and another $763 million in projected sales for Illinois food companies and agribusinesses.
Building on his commitment to increase foreign trade and market Illinois goods overseas, this week Governor Quinn is leading a delegation of officials from Illinois businesses, educational institutions and state and local governments on an economic trade mission in Brazil.
The mission includes stops in São Paulo, Brasilia and Recife, where Governor Quinn will preside over the signing of several memorandums of understanding as part of the Doing Business with Illinois program, which is designed to establish ties in manufacturing, agriculture, biotechnology and education.