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Washington Governor Promotes State's Potatoes South of Border

Spud commission calls mission one of best.

Tours, meetings, and French fry promotions marked Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire's mission to Mexico in July,

Traveling on behalf of the Washington State Potato Commission, the effort is labeled "one of the most productive missions we've had to Mexico," by WSPC's Matt Harris, trade director.

Fries and fresh potatoes were promoted when Harris, Royal City spud producer Frank Martinez, and Skagit Valley grower Roger Knutzen joined the governor for the trip.

The delegation included representatives of agriculture, education, wood products, packaging, engineering, ports and government agencies.

Gov. Gregoire carried the immigration message on behalf of Washington agriculture, stressing the importance of workers in so many of the state's crops and industries.

In addition to touring the central market in Guadalajara, the potato group met with Mexican fresh potato buyers and distributors, and with federal and state government officials on extending market access for Washington potatoes.

"We also worked hard to maintain the positive relationship between Mexican buyers and Washington processors," says Harris. "Roger (Knutzen) was outstanding in his analysis of this market and queries on streamlining business opportunities."

The potato group hosted fry promotions at Wings Family Restaurant in Mexico City end El Pollo Pepe in Guadalajara. The owner of El Pollo Pepe, a fast food chain interested in extending into the U.S., arranged for TV coverage and was very pleased with the Washington potato presentation, reports Harris.

"People loved the fries at both sites," he says, "and were impressed that the state governor would advocate directly for a commodity, conversing with the restaurant patrons. There was lots of media everywhere we went."

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