Value of US potato export to Vietnam in USD, based on US Census Bureau Trade Data (Courtesy The Wall Street Journal)
Oregon potato-promoter Jim Cramer recently returned from what he called a “potato mission trip” to Vietnam.

He and a handful of Pacific Northwest producer-packers and government officials attended a food trade show in Ho Chi Minh City in April.

They hired a local celebrity chef, Dieu Thao, to write a potato-based recipe book, and she prepared some of her dishes live for sampling at their booth.

“In Asia, rice is king,” Mr. Cramer said. “But they are familiar with potatoes.”

More than just familiar, in fact. As the Southeast Asian economy expands and young people’s tastes become more global, the market for American products, like potatoes, has grown.

But U.S. agriculture producers face unique logistical challenges in delivering those goods to consumers there, especially with demand growing so quickly.

Dwight Wilder, a senior representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ho Chi Minh City, said agriculture exports to Vietnam have grown every year but one since the U.S. and Vietnam normalized diplomatic relations in 1995.

In 2014, they topped $2.3 billion, which was 100 times the $23 million in agricultural products the U.S. sent there in 1995. The value of US potato export to Vietnam in 2014 was USD 5.9 million.

Vietnam only produces small quantities of potatoes in its central highlands region.