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Montana pulse growers excited about new opportunities in Colombia

Posted at 2:44 PM, Sep 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-02 16:44:34-04

Montana continues to lead the nation in pulse crop production. And as demand grows for food products made with pulses like peas, lentils and chickpeas, finding new international markets is important for Montana pulse growers. One of those emerging markets is Colombia.

"The Spanish word for it is “ritmo” which is rhythm and vibe, and Colombia is really good. They love American made products and American grown products," said Weston Merrill, the Montana Department of Agriculture marketing officer.

Merrill was part of a recent trade mission to Colombia. He says the South American country is an exciting opportunity for Montana pulse growers.

"Colombia consumes lots of lentils and our trade data shows that Montana is one of the largest exporters to Colombia already. So, they know our product. It's just a matter of haven't keeping a presence in that market so that they continue to buy our product," Merrill said.

According to Merrill, emerging markets like Colombia are important, especially with ongoing trade disputes with China and India; two of the U.S. pulse industry’s top export markets.

"You hear all the doom and gloom with China and India and those markets being closed. But, these emerging markets all of a sudden really become attractive to move some product," Merrill said.

Merrill said Colombian food companies and others are interested in coming to Montana to meet farmers and see where their food is coming from.

"One of the most exciting things that's going to be born from this trip is we're looking to organize an inbound trade mission and invite food importers directly from Panama and Colombia to Montana to see our producers, to see exactly where the product comes from and make some deals. So, that's one of the most exciting things about the trip, is it'll breed pretty immediate success," he said.