U.S. retailers, for example, led by Wal-Mart, are already eyeing the future potential of these markets.
Everything appears difficult, but the adage that, at the same time, nothing is impossible, is never truer than in Asia.
Legal systems, distribution and logistics, finding good people, keeping good people, respect for IP systems, financial arrangements and understanding consumer behavior and culture can be challenging in any market.
In Asia, they are especially difficult, but the size of the prize is large and tempting. It can only be accessed by having a genuine long-term yet flexible view. Asia is no place for the short-termer.
As export and organized modern urban retail markets develop in Asia, there will also be an increased need for high-class traceability, accreditation and food safety systems, supply chain logistics, environmental technologies, CSR strategy, innovation and processing technology.
This is where the U.S. is inherently strong.
A foreign education is highly valued in Asia. Many U.S. agri-food universities and colleges are already actively marketing and recruiting in Asia.
The U.S. is not alone, though, in wanting to export knowledge based services to Asia. Many others in the likes of the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia would like a slice of the action too, as will others in the EU, such as the Netherlands and France.
Asia’s growing influence on world produce and other agri-food markets presents an opportunity and a challenge to the U.S. industry.
The U.S. is already interlinked to Asia in terms of economic recovery. Asia is poised to supply more produce, fresh and processed, to international markets.
The U.S., and to some extent the EU, might have not been the top priority to date as opposed to other regional Asian markets. It is, however, only a matter of time before the U.S., in its full scope of horticultural activity and expertise, comes much more strongly onto the Asian radar.
John Giles is a divisional director with Promar International, an agri-food supply and demand chain consulting company and a subsidiary of Genus PLC, Basingstoke, England. He is also chairman of the Food, Drink & Agriculture Group of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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