NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler has been in Europe this week talking tobacco trade with major, multi-national buyers. Yesterday, their trip wrapped up in Hamburg, Germany:
"We met with three of the major tobacco manufacturing companies that operate worldwide..."
Troxler says that the company they met with in Hamburg at one time was a US leaf customer:
"This is a company that used to buy a tremendous amount of tobacco in the United States but exited the market in 2001..."
According to Troxler, the trip has served to be educational as to the global tobacco situation:
"...One of the things that has happened with this trade group is a greater understanding of the global tobacco situation and the dynamics that are currently driving those situations throughout the world. It makes it much easier to approach people..."
Has the lower value of the dollar recently prompted these companies to take another look at American leaf?:
"It is certainly a factor.. price always drives the sale of anything. For the first time we are very competitive world wide when you consider the quality of our products and the quality of products in other parts of the world... "
Unlike their trip to China last August which yielded benefits before the end of the year, Troxler doesn’t expect that type of action from this trip, but more of a relationship building venture:
"These trade missions -- you never know... with this situation we're not sure that this will be an overnight thing but we're looking one - two years down the road towards replacing some of the lost contracts we've had in this particular crop year... we view the future of NC Tobacco largely through exports..."
Although, it is possible to see some North Carolina tobacco leave the state for Europe this year:
"We're looking at this as a long term plan... for years to come..."
NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler from Hamburg, Germany.