NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler is in Europe this week seeking to strengthen and grow relationships with international importers. Troxler is seeking to increase sustainability for NC’s tobacco crop.
Meetings on Tuesday with Swiss tobacco importers JTI went very well, according to Troxler:
“Commissioner, give us an idea of what this trip is all about: we are on a trade mission emphasizing North Carolina tobacco, and our ability to export tobacco world wide, and what I think we came looking for is sustainability for our tobacco production. We just visited with Japan Tobacco International who is headquartered here in Geneva, and had about a three hour meeting that I thought went wonderfully. And they are very much interested in helping with the sustainability of tobacco production in particularly North Carolina, and we are now price competitive world wide.”
Commissioner, are you just going to be visiting Switzerland, or there other countries that are a part of your itinerary?
“Japan Tobacco International, is, I believe the third largest tobacco company in the world, and they have tobacco products for sale all over the world. Just because they’re headquartered here in Geneva, does not mean that these products that we’re selling to them is not going to other parts of the world. So, this is a world-wide trade that we’re talking about.”
Is this first meeting with the Swiss importers, or is this an ongoing discussion?
“This is my first time, and our first time of meeting with the group, but they’re in the process of setting up buying stations in North Carolina, and actually will be procuring tobacco by contract directly from farmers. So, this is an effort to say thank you to them, but, also to expand the amount of tobacco that we sell to this international company. As we continue this trade mission we’ll be talking to two other major international tobacco companies about purchases of North Carolina tobacco.”
Mr. Troxler, how important is the European market to North Carolina tobacco?
“The number one cash crop in North Carolina is tobacco, and with shrinking domestic markets we know that our future is going to be in large measure to be able to export the tobacco we grow. So that is the reason this trade mission is so important to develop these relationships with these international companies that have the ability to purchase tobacco anywhere in the world but, they know and we know that we have the very highest quality of tobacco here in the United States. I think we’re in a unique position now for the first time in a long time to be price competitive.”