While 2019 was a good year in the world of trade for many farmers, Chris Voigt it hoping for even bigger days ahead. The Executive Director of the Washington state Potato Commission said between Phase One, and both China and Japan expanding chipping potato opportunities, the past six months have been encouraging for local growers. As he looks to the future, Voigt said he’s hopeful the USDA will continue to be aggressive with trade missions, looking for not only new markets but locations that can expand. Voigt said he’s hopeful the Administration will focus heavily on SE Asia, specifically Vietnam.
‘Since the United States backed out of TPP we see a tremendous amount of growth opportunities in Vietnam. It’s an economy that’s growing very quickly. They’re adopting a lot of quick serve restaurants in Vietnam. And we want to be able to meet the demand.”
Voigt said the Philippines also hold a lot of potential for the potato industry as a whole.
When it comes to one of the biggest issues of the day, coronavirus, Voigt said he’s not concerned COVID-19 will create economic slowdowns for the Washington or U.S. potato industries. He said a slowdown will only occur if people, worldwide, greatly cut back on visiting fast food restaurants. And even if that does occur, Voigt is not worried.
“The demand has been so strong, we haven’t been able to keep up with it, so, even if there is a little bit of a downturn in demand, it wont have any affect to our industry. I think finally supply and demand will match up and we’ll be OK. So, we’re not expecting any kind of downturn in potato production here in Washington.”
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