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US diplomat hopes to work with kirana stores

Jeanne F Bailey, the US Minister-Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs for India and Sri Lanka, was in Chennai for a round table with the media.

US diplomat hopes to work with kirana stores
Jeanne F Bailey (third left) flanked by her team members


During the session, she discussed how products from the state are finding approval in the US and elaborated on how she hopes to open up dialogue and collaborate with not just big retailers, but also small family-run stores across the country. 

“Shrimp and spices are the most exported products from here to the US, and south India occupies pride of place in this trade. Mangoes from this region as well do exceedingly well there - and are priced higher than the same fruits from other countries - purely due to their quality,” she said, adding Indians knew the importance of developing personal relationships with their US counterparts. 

A veteran of three decades in the USDA, Jeanne said that her short trip to Chennai had so far exceeded expectations - both the products on offer here as well as the enterprise of the people. 

“We are hoping to work with more restaurants and entrepreneurs in Chennai, help them grow, see how US products can benefit them, and start a sustained industry promotion. Indian products are internationally renowned today, as is the cuisine.” 

To this effect, the US Department of Agriculture also hosted a program on Monday where 40 culinary school students in the city interacted with them on the health benefits of American food/agricultural products - ranging from as varied as peanut butter and soy-based protein shakes to hot sauces and US poultry. 

“Students from here who travel abroad to study in colleges  are our best ambassadors! They come back to India and want to keep tasting what they liked overseas. The same goes vice-versa. There has been a 25 pc increase in early 2018 on food and agricultural products bought by the USA from India,” she explains. 

Jeanne, who is based in New Delhi, hopes to visit Chennai again. “Mostly to check out restaurants and sample more of the amazing food here, considering Chennai is a culinary hub,” she sums up. 

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