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Dominican produce exporters prepped for FL trade show


Five Dominican produce exporters seeking new markets in the U.S. attended the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit in Orlando, one of the largest produce shows in the world, October 24-27, thanks to support from USAID’s Proyecto de Diversificacion Economica Rural (DR-RED). Trade shows are a crucial component of the project’s strategy to help rural agribusiness increase sales in export markets – especially in the U.S. under the DR-CAFTA agreement. Shows like Fresh Summit, which draws more than 17,000 participants, are an ideal venue to connect with potential buyers and investors, as well as learn about new market trends in areas like organic certification, processing and packaging.

The exporters – Banama, Frutas Chiara, Grupo Tecnico Empresarial, Agrobenca and Vegetales Jarabacoa – are all leaders in DR’s produce industry, shipping bell peppers, cucumbers, avocadoes, hydroponic tomatoes and organic bananas to Europe and limited locations in the U.S. But they could greatly expand operations if they had the demand, and the massive, nearby U.S. market is the most obvious target. To meet that demand, some must also improve aspects of their businesses, including post-harvest handling and packaging. To help these exporters get the most out of Fresh Summit, DR-RED and CARANA Corporation, which is managing the project as a subcontractor to Abt Associates, taught an October 9 workshop on how to uncover the most useful leads, make the best impression and connect with a wide range of sales and investment opportunities − all in the midst of a crowded, hectic trade show environment.

DR-RED’s Jose Manuel Gomez and CARANA’s Greg Jacobs and Michael Kuchler took exporters through pre-show preparation steps, including finding potential buyers and investors on the Internet and setting up meetings in advance, as well as tracking leads on a spreadsheet. Exporters practiced one-minute pitches and role-played possible scenarios, like trying to sell to a buyer with a bad previous experience with the DR. Participants also reviewed marketing materials and booth layouts, analyzing why certain designs work and others don’t.

All exporters departed with a starter sheet of 15 potential partners at the show. In evaluations, they praised the workshop. “I think that without this serious training, it would be difficult to perform well at PMA,” one wrote, while another suggested, “You should do this event for other producer organizations.”

Published Obtober 2008