Countries around the globe rely on Missouri exports, from corn and soybeans to timber and wood products to wine, meat and other food products – and so does the state’s economy. In fact, exported agricultural products contribute more than $2 billion to the state’s economy each year.
From startup agribusinesses with goals of marketing their product worldwide to international companies exploring new markets, Missouri is home to a wealth of agricultural innovation and growth. The state’s producers export millions of dollars worth of agricultural products each year, shipping Missouri hardwood and softwood lumber to China, transporting dairy cattle to Mexico, and selling soy protein and wine to Taiwan and Vietnam.
As every $125,000 worth of agricultural exports equates to one new job, more than 15,000 Missouri jobs are directly supported by farmers, farm families and processors sending goods around the world.
Among Missouri exports, soybeans are a top crop. More than half of the state’s soybean harvest is exported each year.
At soy technology company Solae, international exports account for more than half of its sales. Founded in 2003 as a joint endeavor between Pioneer DuPont and Bunge, Solae develops soy-based technologies and has become a global leader in nutrition and health with offices on six continents.
“As the world’s leader in soy-based ingredients, we strive to provide solutions to help feed a growing global population with nutritious, sustainable and affordable ingredients,” says Cornel Fuerer, vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Solae. “It is our responsibility to ensure that your ingredients are safe and of high quality. To achieve this, integrity must be at the core of everything we do.”
The company employs more than 350 people in St. Louis, where they specialize in providing protein meal for the livestock industry and exporting grains, oilseeds and other food products.
While Solae has seen outstanding growth exporting raw materials and food ingredients, other Missouri companies have found international success with value-added products.
More than a century ago, Italian immigrant John Volpi decided to settle in the city surrounded by the best pork production in his new nation. In 1902, he founded John Volpi & Company Inc. and began selling his signature cured salami.
Volpi began exporting globally in the 1990s, and the company has grown more than 15 percent over the past five years.
The company, now in its third generation of family ownership, produces dozens of varieties of all-natural specialty meats including prosciutto, pancetta and sausage. While many things have changed in the business’ more than 110 years, the Volpi family continues to rely on local producers.
“Ninety percent of the meat we use is sourced within 250 miles of our facility in St. Louis,” says Daniela Depke, international sales representative for Volpi & Company Inc. “Our success is due in large part to Missouri farmers.”
Missouri farmers raising the pork, cattle and poultry for the Volpi family may also be making their livestock genetics and breeding stock available to customers around the world. At least, they will if Tony Clayton has his way.
Clayton leads Clayton Agri-Marketing Inc., a company helping producers export their livestock. Clients around the world rely on the Jefferson City company for livestock, feed, equipment and supplies.
Customers can expect Clayton Agri-Marketing to help facilitate exports and imports from beef and dairy cattle to goats, horses, sheep and swine. The company’s services include helping buyers navigate export and import regulations, livestock selection, health testing and transportation of the precious cargo.
While travel can sometimes be stressful for livestock, the company ensures that accommodations for its animals keep health and comfort in mind, whether traveling by land, air or sea.
“They travel really well,” Tony Clayton, chief executive officer, says after transporting more than 200 hogs to South Korea. “They have enough room to lie down, enough room to walk and get water. They travel better than some of us people in the economy class.”
Clayton Agri-Marketing has found success exporting to many countries in South America and Asia including the Bahamas, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Peru and the Philippines. They’ve also worked in Europe facilitating exports to Russia.
Sustaining the growth these companies and thousands of other businesses like them have seen in exports requires a concerted effort among companies, agricultural organizations, and state and federal agencies. Trade missions have helped many agriculture and business leaders find success in developing new export commitments. International trade missions led by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and other top officials have recently taken Missouri companies to Mexico, China, Russia and Vietnam, among others.
Missouri businesses have the opportunity to benefit from state-supported international trade offices around the world, including Mexico, Taiwan, Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, and many financial assistance programs available to assist those exploring new markets.