Exporting U.S. agricultural commodities to foreign markets is not always a seamless process, and sometimes uncertainty is the rule. However, two companies recently received honors for their ability to overcome international trade barriers with USDA assistance and successfully export their products throughout Mexico.

The Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Offices (ATO) in Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico, named Caymus Vineyards of Rutherford, Calif., and Eagle Eye Produce of Idaho Falls, Idaho, as the 2011 Mexico Exporters of the Year. The award is a new initiative to highlight the successes of U.S. companies in Mexico and to encourage others to expand their business there.

“We are trying to identify the good work being done by U.S. exporters,” said W. Garth Thorburn, Mexico ATO director. “We identified these companies as being the most proactive in the Mexican market. Both faced significant challenges but still decided to come into Mexico and are doing well.”

Caymus Vineyards and Eagle Eye Produce participated in several FAS-sponsored events to expose their products to Mexican markets.

Eagle Eye Produce has successfully marketed yellow onions in Mexico for the past four years despite a cultural preference for non-yellow onions in traditional Mexican cuisine. The company’s success was driven by inviting Mexican buyers to the Northwest through reverse trade missions that helped eliminate cultural barriers.

Eagle Eye Produce invites Mexican buyers to the Northwestern United States during harvest to have them learn about the company’s products in person. The hands-on education Mexican buyers receive in the United States gives them a greater understanding and confidence in the products and in Eagle Eye’s ability to deliver what Mexican customers prefer.

Caymus Vineyards’ success in Mexico started with a realization that while beer and tequila are popular there, Mexico is becoming “wine country” too and offers excellent opportunities for foreign exporters. Imported wines account for 70 percent of Mexican wine consumption and most of those wines come from Europe and South America.

Despite the strong competition, Caymus Vineyards began its Mexican operation, Vinos Wagner, in 2008 by promoting and selling wines in northern Mexico. Their first sale was for 10 brands and 610 cases of wine. By 2011, the company expanded sales to Mexico City and sold 16 brands and 1,034 cases of wine. During the U.S.-Mexico trucking dispute, which resulted in increased duties on U.S. wines, Vinos Wagner reduced costs to stay competitive and build its clientele.

Eagle Eye Produce and Caymus Vineyards’ success in Mexico is just one example of the surge in popularity for the American brand of agriculture. U.S. food and agricultural exports reached a record $137.4 billion in fiscal year 2011 and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus stands at a record $42.7 billion.