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OSU researchers find challenges -but great overseas potential- for Oregon's food and beverage makers (especially the brewers)

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Rinson Chory
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Container ship at sea.

Oregon’s food and beverage producers face significant challenges in finding export markets, according to an Oregon State University study.

In a survey of nearly a hundred businesses, OSU learned that even among the more successful exporters, shipments outside the U.S. were less than 25% of their distribution.

Jeff Reimer is a professor of applied economics, and co-author of the study. He told KLCC that establishing a reliable relationship with a foreign partner is just one challenge.

“Language for example, all the different customs and safety standards that are in place,” said Reimer. “And most of the world works on the metric system. And the United States, we measure things in pounds and bushels. The rest of the world measures it in kilograms, and so forth.”

Reimer added that interest is there for Oregon products. He said one way companies can find overseas markets is to have a few dedicated employees working on export opportunities, exclusively.

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Brian Bull
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KLCC
A flight of local craft beers in Springfield, Oregon.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s wine and craft brew industries have great potential for overseas markets. Reimer said says local breweries have especially developed a “quality over quantity” approach that has appealed to foreign buyers.

“For example, we found that some beers from small Oregon breweries are being sold on shelves in Japan,” explained Reimer. “But they weren’t imported directly from Oregon, they were actually exported from Oregon to Australia. Then someone in Japan brought that beer from Australia, to Japan. So anyway, exports sometimes work in circuitous ways that you might not expect.”

Surveyed businesses said that state and federal assistance programs were helpful in developing export markets. Reimer said trade missions like Governor Kate Brown’s recent one to Japan and South Korea also fire up interest in Oregon products.

©2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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