The Cuban Trade Mission

February 27, 2008 8:48:35 PM PST
Despite a long-standing trade embargo Cuba bought over 600-million dollars worth of American Ag products last year. The communist country needs to import food.

Now with a change in Cuban leadership a Fresno company hopes to cash in on what it hopes will be an expanding market.

These dried figs fresh off the Fresno production line are ready to be shipped around the country.

But the president of Valley Fig Growers has his sights set on the Cuban market.

Mike Emigh was part of an 18-member trade mission which recently visited Cuba.

Mike Emigh, Valley Fig Growers President: "If we ever move forward and lift the embargo there's going to be a rush of investment in Cuba. It's so close, only 90 miles from our shores.

Only a handful of American food and farm products are currently allowed to be sold in Cuba.

With Fidel Castro no longer in power replaced by his brother Raoul, Emigh believes trade restrictions will eventually ease in the country.

"It is exciting. I think we have changes around the corner."

The company will package samples of its various fig products and send them to Cuba.

"We're looking to do something this fall, perhaps put together some items with different dried fruits and nuts."

"The Cuban diet, there's a lot of sweet pastries. I think a cookie like a fig Newton would go over great there."

Nabisco's Fig Newton would not exist without the figs grown in Central California and the fig paste produced in this facility.

"There is no Newton that is correct."

The fig paste that fills newtons can also be extruded into small pieces.

These are actually coated with blueberry flavoring for use in bakery items.

Along with Valley Fig Growers another local company Hilmar Cheese was also part of the Cuban trade mission which was headed by State Ag Secretary A-G Kawamura.


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