Feature photo: Oregon pear promotion overseas.
One might say that Oregon seafood, pears and straw get around. From live crab in Hong Kong to pears in Saudi Arabia to straw and alfalfa in Korea, countries across the globe enjoy Oregon’s agricultural products.
The products have different selling points – some go into animal feed, others are for direct human consumption – but each product is highly desired because of its top quality and dependability.
Much of Oregon seafood, for example, has a certificate of sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which, according to Larz Malony of Pacific Seafood, runs fisheries through a rigorous audit before awarding the certification.
“MSC certification is a big deal,” Malony says. “Oregon has done the work to make these fisheries sustainable, more so than any other state in the United States.”
Oregon sells a wide variety of fish to international markets, including rock fish, black cod, cold water shrimp, king salmon, Pacific whiting, Oregon albacore tuna and Dungeness crab, Malony adds.
In Scandinavia and northern Europe, cooked and peeled cold- water shrimp from Oregon are very popular, he says. King salmon from Oregon dominates demand in certain areas of Asia, as does Oregon albacore tuna, black cod and cold-water pink shrimp. Pacific whiting from Oregon is also popular in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Live Dungeness crab, meanwhile, enjoys a huge and growing popularity in China and other Asian countries, according to Malony.
“We produce, off the coast of Oregon, a wide range of sustainable fish that consumers find attractive and allows for large-scale production. Our fisheries are well managed and here to stay,” he adds.
The same goes for Oregon- grown pears. The sweet and juicy state fruit gets shipped in large quantities to Mexico, the state’s No. 1 export market for pears, as well as to Canada, Colombia, China, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
Most Oregon pear production takes place in the Medford area of Southern Oregon and the Hood River Valley, which lies in the shadow of Mount Hood. D’Anjou and Bartlett pears, two varieties common in Hood River, thrive in the area’s volcanic soils.
“It is good for pears to have some cold during the winter dormant season,” says Kevin Moffitt, president of Pear Bureau Northwest, which represents Washington and Oregon growers. “It helps them blossom fully in the spring, creating abundant harvests in the summer.”
Immediately after harvest, pears are placed in cold storage at close to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Some fruit goes into controlled atmosphere, a low-oxygen storage that slows pear respiration rates and allows them to stay fresh for six to eight months.
The Last Straw
Oregon’s reputation for producing high-quality agricultural products doesn’t stop at food. Oregon’s straw and alfalfa producers also maintain an excellent international reputation for delivering high-quality product, says Steve Van Mouwerik of Pacific Ag, an agricultural residue and forage harvesting business.
Much of the straw and alfalfa produced in Oregon ships to Japan or Korea as feed for dairy cows and beef cattle.
High-fiber Oregon straw is used to feed Wagyu beef in Japan. When consumers take a bite of $150-per-pound Kobe beef at a high-end Tokyo restaurant, chances are they are eating a part of something grown in Oregon.
Most of the straw produced in Oregon hails from the Willamette Valley as a byproduct of grass seed. A majority of the alfalfa, conversely, grows on the east side of the state.
“Alfalfa is nature’s best-balanced meal for a milk-producing animal,” Van Mouwerik says. “It has a lot of protein, a lot of scratch factor for the rumen and it has a range of carbohydrates that are good for the animal, too.”
Whether the east or the west side of the state, whether animal feed or a food product, evidence shows that if it’s grown in Oregon, it can wind up being enjoyed by consumers nearly anywhere in the world.
“We produce far more pears and seafood than Oregonians can possibly eat,” says Theresa Yoshioka, trade manager with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “We take pride in sharing our bounty with the regions of the world that can’t grow what we grow.”