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     USPB presentation in Burma
    Food industry buyers and professionals in Burma received their first taste of U.S. frozen and dehydrated potato products with the United States Potato Board’s (USPB) participation in the U.S. Food &Beverage Agent Show.

    Sponsored by USDA/FAS, the show took place August 22-23, 2013, in Yangon, Burma.

    Officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Burma represents a promising new market in Southeast Asia, and the show offered U.S. trade groups an opportunity to introduce U.S. food products to local agents, hotels, restaurants, retailers and others.

    The USPB showcased the quality and benefits of U.S. frozen and dehydrated potato products during a well-attended product seminar and cooking demonstration. USPB’s “Why Buy US” presentation helped participants understand how value-purchasing impacts their bottom line--an important message to drive home in new markets for frozen fries which tend to be price-driven. Participants were also given an opportunity to try U.S. frozen potatoes during the lunch break, and to prepare mashed potatoes themselves using U.S. instant dehydrated potatoes.

    During the show, the USPB’s Table Top Showcase featured numerous products provided by U.S. potato processors and regional importers/distributors. Finally, a trade reception with key retailers and foodservice professionals provided a forum to forge new business relationships.

    "I was really impressed with the interest shown in U.S. potato products by all aspects of the trade in Myanmar,” said Kraipob Pangsapa, USPB’s Thailand Representative who implemented the activity for the Board. “I think there is potential to build a good market here."

    Pangsapa reported the show generated several trade leads, although he noted there is a lot of education to be done, particularly in light of problems with the current cold chain infrastructure for frozen food.

    The Burmese show is part of the USPB’s ongoing effort to identify new growth opportunities for U.S. potato exports. The USPB is currently conducting a market study of both Burma and Cambodia--scheduled for completion in January--to evaluate the potential for U.S. frozen and dehy. The USPB has also secured Emerging Market Program funds to conduct initial market development in Cambodia and Burma over the next couple years. Coming up in November, USPB will be participating in a similar USDA sponsored event in Cambodia.

    "The USPB is very excited to be helping the U.S. industry explore this new market, as well as Cambodia,” commented John Toaspern, USPB’s Vice President of International Marketing. “It will take time to develop, and there are cold chain and other distribution challenges that must be overcome, but this will create a new opportunity for U.S. growers and processors."

    Marty Myers, USPB International Marketing Co-Chair, echoed the importance of new market exploration: "I take my hat off to the USPB staff and international representatives for recognizing this new opportunity for U.S. growers and going out and getting the additional funding required to develop them. This is exactly what the USPB should be doing, helping the industry find and develop new markets to create new demand for U.S. potatoes."

    For more information on the USPB as the nation’s potato marketing organization, positioned as the “catalyst for positive change,” and the central organizing force in implementing programs that will increase demand for potatoes, please visit www.uspotatoes.com.

    Source: United States Potato Board (USPB)