For fourteen days in June, Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and Secretary of Agriculture Sue Ellspermann led a delegation of 25 Hoosiers through three Asian countries. They toured Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
"We had three goals," Mc Kinney says. "We wanted to explore and complete some actual deals, but secondly, we wanted to build trust with potential customers. The Asian culture is very much about building relationships before you do business with one another.
"The third thing we wanted to do was build trust and relationships amongst ourselves – the Hoosiers that represented a wide cross-section of agriculture on the trip. We feel like we accomplished all three objectives."
A few deals were signed during the trip and talks have continued between private individuals in the Indiana delegation and business people they talked with in those countries, McKinney says. He expects more actual commerce to come out of the relationships which were formed.
"One of our goals is to work into more trade shows related to food and agriculture held in those countries," he says. "The IOM company from Portland that specializes in supplying soybeans for food markets as an identity-preserved product for Asia was participating in one of the shows. They weren't part of our mission per se, but we learned a great deal from them.
"We're going to utilize the relationships we began and learn how we can become involved in these types of events where we can showcase Indiana products and businesses."
As far as the third objective, McKinney certainly believes they were successful. He's aware of Hoosiers who were on the trip exchanging emails with each other, and forming relationships. Many people formed relationships with potential customers overseas, but also formed friendships with people in Indiana because of this trade mission trip, Mc Kinney concludes.