Mihaylo alumnus and adjunct professor of global marketing Jeff Williamson ‘03, director of California State Trade and Exports Promotion, appears on CNBC to discuss the outlook for California food exports.
California has the largest agricultural sector of any state in the United States, a position that enables it to feed millions of people around the world with fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and other commodities. Mihaylo alumnus Jeff Williamson ‘03, director of California State Trade and Exports Promotion, appeared August 13 on the financial media channel CNBC to discuss the future of California’s agricultural exports and the effect of Russia’s food import ban.
Williamson said that he believes the largest growth market for California’s food exports are in Asia, based on an increase in consumption and the emergence of a large Asian middle class, coupled with the state’s geographic location. “California is the gateway to the Pacific Rim for North America, so a lot of our markets are in Asia, particularly in China and Hong Kong,” Williamson said. “We have seen about 10 consecutive years of double-digit growth in Hong Kong and China for California exports,” noting that last year, exports for food and agricultural products to Hong Kong increased 16 percent, while exports to Mainland China saw a 24 percent increase. This, said Williamson, helps to offset geopolitical pressures with Russia, which is no longer an export for California products.
California’s dynamic agricultural sector is currently suffering from one of the worst droughts in recorded state history. Four years of abnormally low precipitation have depleted reservoirs and groundwater and forced scarce water resources to be used for drinking water, rather than agricultural purposes.
Still, the state is in a favorable position, so far as its reputation goes. “California food products are well known around the world as quality products,” Williamson said, noting that the state is the leader in many product categories.
Williamson spoke to CNBC while at a food expo in Hong Kong, which he attended to promote California products abroad. “These trade expos are useful for us, particularly for small and medium-sized companies,” he said. These companies then share their contacts with other farmers and growers, helping to develop the California export network. The Asian-American community in California also aids in moving California agricultural products along the supply chain, he said.