David Anderson is confident his company has what it takes to cut it in China.
“If you have a good product and can sell it here, you can sell it anywhere,” says Anderson, the international sales manager for Jet Edge, a manufacturer of ultra-high waterjet and abrasivejet technology. “China is a huge market for our products.”
Jet Edge waterjets cut with a supersonic stream of water that is so powerful it can cut through materials in one pass without shredding or crushing them. Here’s how it works: water is pressurized up to 90,000 psi and forced through an orifice as small as .005 inches. Often an abrasive is added that can cut cleanly through virtually any material.
The company manufactures complete systems and related products for precision waterjet cutting, surface preparation and coatings removal.
The systems have a variety of uses. Materials commonly cut with waterjet include rubber, foam, plastics, composites, stone, tile, metals like hardened steel and titanium, food, paper and much more. The only materials that cannot be cut with waterjet are tempered glass, diamonds and certain ceramics.
Jet Edge waterjet systems are used around the world in a broad range of industries, from the world’s leading airlines to automotive, aerospace, and industrial manufacturers to machine and job shops.
Jet Edge has a Chinese partner and sales office and showroom in Shanghai. “It is crucial to have equipment there to show and demonstrate, to have a local presence,” says Anderson. “Customers need to hear it, see it, look at it.”
Deep-fried and served on a stick or wok-fried and served with chopsticks, food is one of the strongest connections between Minnesota and China.
Food is not just something to eat. It’s a reflection of taste and culture and geography and more. Food says a lot about people. It’s why we find the food in other countries and regions so interesting.
So it makes sense that Governor Mark Dayton’s trade mission to China has a strong emphasis on agriculture and food. It makes dollars, too. A whole lot of them.
China is Minnesota’s top market for agricultural commodities and related food products, with purchases of $1.35 billion in 2010.
“That accounts for more than one-fourth of Minnesota’s agricultural exports,” says state Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, who is traveling with the delegation.
“In the past 10 years, our ag exports to China have jumped 800 percent, mostly driven by exports of bulk and intermediate commodities,” said Frederickson. “China’s the top buyer and the main market for Minnesota soybeans and a growing market for our pork.”
And it’s not just commodities. Sales of processed foods were $202 million. Push a cart through the aisles of a big supermarket in China and you’ll find more than a few iconic Minnesota food brands on the shelves.
Trumpeting the Bugles®
At one time or another, most Minnesota kids have eaten Bugles®, those crunchy, cone-shaped corn snacks made by General Mills that small children especially love to wear on their fingertips like a witch’s fingernails.
But unless you’ve been in China, you’ve never eaten “Seaweed” flavored Bugles®. In the Chinese market, the snack is made with potatoes, corn or rice and comes in dozens of flavors. In fact, Bugles® has become the leading brand among non-potato chip snacks in Greater China.
Curious how they market Bugles® in China? Take a look at this commercial on YouTube:
As Governor Dayton leads the state’s trade mission to China June 8-June 17, he is joined by many businesses and organizations representing Minnesota agriculture. China is the state's top foreign market for agricultural commodities and related food products, accounting for more than a quarter of Minnesota's agricultural exports. Agricultural businesses, food service companies, and other farming organizations join the larger delegation with the goal of fostering trade relations between Minnesota and China.
Among the farming companies that compose the delegation is Knewtson Soy Products, a family owned and operated farm in Good Thunder, Minnesota that exports 90% of their soybean production to food and feed manufacturers, with customers in several Southeast Asian countries. Additionally, Hastings Co-op Creamery, a 98-year-old company currently marketing milk and milk products for 105 dairy farmer members/owners, and Superior Feed Ingredients, a company based in Waconia, will also join the Governor as members of the delegation.
Also included in the delegation are key members of the food service industry, such as Dombrovski Meats, based in Foley, Minnesota, a family owned company, wholesale manufacturer, and national distributor of the highest quality meat products [see featured profile below]; Midwest AG Enterprises, Inc., a Marshall-based manufacturer and supplier of high quality feed ingredients for the livestock industry in China; and Michael Foods, the world’s largest egg processing company, based in Minnetonka, whose newest facility is located near Beijing.
A key part of Governor Dayton’s trade mission to China is convincing Chinese companies that Minnesota companies – and Minnesotans – are worth investing in.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the direct investment into production in a country by a company located in another country, and Minnesota has been a beneficiary of FDI from China. When Chinese companies invest in Minnesota companies, it allows those companies to expand and increase their production – this creates more jobs for Minnesotans, and provides a benefit for Chinese companies when companies they have invested in do well and provide extra profit. Chinese FDI in Minnesota has risen from $151 million in 2008 to $390 million in 2011.
Graphic: Chinese FDI in Minnesota by year:
One recent example of FDI, and how it benefits Minnesota, comes from Duluth last year. Since 2011, the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company (CAIGA) has invested nearly $100 million into the Duluth-based company Cirrus Aircraft. As a result, Cirrus has been able to expedite its aircraft development programs and accelerate the company’s global expansion, helping make the Cirrus brand more successful and prominent in the marketplace. CAIGA’s investment also allowed Cirrus to develop a new aircraft, the Vision SF-50, a project that will create hundreds of jobs in Minnesota.
Three major Minnesota universities are currently participating in Governor Dayton’s Trade Mission to China. The University of Minnesota, St. Cloud State University, and Metropolitan State University have each seen substantial growth in their relationships with Chinese universities, students, and faculty in recent years, and the current trade mission offers all three an occasion to strengthen current ties to China, and to also create new partnerships. Below is a brief overview of each university’s connections to China, as well as their objectives for the current trade mission.
University of Minnesota
The first Chinese students attended the University of Minnesota in 1914. Today, of the 4,500 international students, faculty, and staff at the University, over 1,400 are visiting Chinese scholars and students, the largest Chinese population of any campus in North America. In 2004, President Robert Bruininks led an official University of Minnesota delegation to China to facilitate educational exchange and promote cultural understanding. By 2009, the University of Minnesota launched its first official office abroad in Beijing, which provides support for students, faculty, and staff traveling to China on official University business. The University’s rapport with China has consistently progressed in recent years, leading to a growing Chinese presence on campus, which the current delegation will continue to encourage.
St. Cloud State University
Saint Cloud State University (SCSU) has developed deep international relationships and agreements over many years of interaction. St. Cloud State University has active relationships with more than 25 overseas universities and institutions through their Center for International Studies, including eight Chinese universities. The partnerships include student and faculty exchanges and participation of Chinese students and faculty in a summer training institute on the SCSU campus.
The partnership with Shanghai University of Engineering Science has taken individual importance during this trade mission. St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter, a veteran of four governor’s trade missions, anticipates meeting with the new president of SUES, Xiaodong Ding, during the trade mission. In addition, both SUES President Xiaodong Ding and the institution’s previous president, Dr. Wang Hong, now governor of the industrial/port district in Shanghai, have both been invited to attend a reception with Governor Dayton.
Today, Governor Dayton will lead a delegation on a ten-day trade mission to China, traveling to Beijing, Shanghai and Xian (the capital of Shaanxi Province) for market and industry briefings, business match-making events, networking events and meetings with key U.S. and Chinese government officials. The 50-member group of business, industry, education and government leaders will attend market and industry briefings, networking events, and meetings with key U.S. and Chinese officials.
The delegation will also host multiple receptions for top Chinese government officials and business executives to showcase Minnesota companies and export industries, as well as promote the state as an ideal destination for direct investment by China. Minnesota has had an official relationship with China since signing the sister-state agreement with Shaanxi Province in 1982.
As the trip unfolds, the Governor’s office will be covering the delegation in a special blog series that explores how trade missions foster new relationships via commerce, agriculture, trade, and the environment. You can get daily updates on the delegation by signing up for our e-mail list, checking back on the blog, or following Governor Dayton on Twitter and Facebook. We will showcase highlights of the delegation, highlight our sister-province relationship, and post photos of the Governor’s meetings across the state. We hope that you will travel along with us as the Minnesota delegation embarks on its trade mission across China.