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Economy

Brazil wants apples and blueberries, here's why that's great for Michigan

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Eat more locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables

When we think about food grown in Michigan, many people might assume that Michiganders are the ones who are consuming it.

It turns out we aren't the only ones eating our state's crops.

Michigan is number 17 among other states in agricultural product exportation, but that could increase in the next ten years. 

Jamie Zmitko-Somers is with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"In 2011, Michigan exported $2.8 billion of food and ag products. We've seen at least 10% every year for the last five years and we anticipate the same with our 2012 numbers," she said.

Zmitko-Somers's department is working to meet the governor's objective of doubling agricultural product exports to $3.5 billion, but she hopes to go beyond that.

Where Michigan exports go

Michigan's top five markets are Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea and China. 

"60% goes into Canada. We share close borders with them, consumers have similar tastes and it's fairly easy for Michigan companies to export and we have a great free trade agreement," she said.

Other countries want Michigan exports as ingredients in products that they produce.

David Ortega is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University. 

"China is important, too," he said. "There's tremendous market potential. With rising incomes, we're seeing an emerging middle class with more disposable income and changes in preferences and diets. They're demanding more Western foods. They're also demanding safer foods which Michigan farmers can deliver."

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