One of the highlights of the North Carolina State Fair is the mock tobacco auction on Friday afternoon, hosted by NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler. This year’s auction coincided with the annual buying trip for a group of Chinese tobacco buyers, and one of their requests was to see the auction. Paul Chang with USDC escorts the group while in the state:
PC: They were very interested to see that auction in this way.
SFN: And how long does the group plan on being in town?
PC: It varies because they came in four different groups and after they make the purchase of tobacco, some of them will leave early and others will stay for a month or so to supervise the process of their tobacco.
SFN: Interesting. Is this a group that comes every year or a couple of times a year?
PC: They come every year, since 2005. Every year they do buy quite a bit of quantity tobacco from us.
SFN: What kind of quantity are talking about that leaves North Carolina and goes to China?
PC: Well just here in North Carolina, I think it is in the range of 10,000 metric tons, a little bit more or less. Every year they came, in the prior years, usually they would come here to buy about 15,000 metric tons, that's flue cured. The Burley about 1,000 to 1,500 every year.
SFN: Do they buy the bulk of that in North Carolina or do they also travel to Virginia and Tennessee?
PC: They stay here most of the time. They don't really travel to other states because this is the center of tobacco growing area. They stay here and we bring samples to them if it's grown in other places, we bring samples to them.
SFN: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
PC: They're very happy, they think they're being treated nicely. So, I think that's very important.
SFN: A little southern hospitality goes a long way...
PC: Definitely! They enjoy it.
Paul Chang with the US Department of Commerce. The North Carolina State Fair concluded its eleven-day run on Sunday.