Wis­con­sin gin­seng is a pre­mium brand and we are work­ing hard to use it to build aware­ness of our agri­cul­tural di­ver­sity.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Agri­cul­ture, Trade and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

The most sought-af­ter gin­seng is wild gin­seng, which is very ex­pen­sive, ac­cord­ing to Hack. On the Ama­zon web­site on Wed­nes­day, four ounces of pre­mium Wis­con­sin wild gin­seng sold for $163.99.

For cul­ti­vated gin­seng, Hack said Wis­con­sin farm­ers re­ceived on av­er­age $78 a pound last fall.

He noted that the Bad­ger state pro­duced about 700,000 pounds of gin­seng last year or about 95 per­cent of the cul­ti­vated gin­seng in the US. Ap­prox­i­mately 80 per­cent of Wis­con­sin’s crop was ex­ported to China and other Asian na­tions. That leaves about 140,000 pounds of gen­uine Wis­con­sin gin­seng for dis­tri­bu­tion in the US.

Wis­con­sin’s gin­seng ex­ports to China to­taled about $10 mil­lion in 2014. Ex­ports to Hong Kong were $15.6 mil­lion ac­cord­ing to Lu.

Many stores in the US sell gin­seng in packages la­beled as be­ing from Wis­con­sin. “There is no way we could have pro­duced the en­tire gin­seng in this coun­try that has a Wis­con­sin la­bel on it,” Hack said. He be­lieves that most of the gin­seng la­beled as be­ing from Wis­con­sin was ac­tu­ally grown in Canada.

The Wis­con­sin Gin­seng Board es­tab­lished an of­fi­cial seal that could be stamped only on board-ver­i­fied gin­seng prod­ucts in the 1990s. “We dis­cov­ered that the seal was be­ing copied and used with­out our per­mis­sion,” said Hack.

To rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion, Hack said seven dis­trib­u­tors world­wide in­clud­ing two in the US are au­tho­rized to use the seal. To help with coun­ter­feit­ing in China, the Wis­con­sin board signed a 10-year deal in 2013 to ex­port $200 mil­lion of gin­seng to China with Bei­jing Tong Ren Tang Health-Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Co Ltd, an af­fil­i­ate of the cen­turies-old tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine brand Tong Ren Tang.

Tong Ren Tang, founded in 1669, is one of the best­known brands in China and was among the first to be des­ig­nated a Chi­nese cul­tural her­itage brand by the gov­ern­ment.

“The big­gest chal­lenge for us is to as­sure con­sumers whether they are in the US, China or any other coun­try that the gin­seng they are pur­chas­ing with a la­bel that says it was grown in Wis­con­sin was in fact har­vested here. Hope­fully the seal and the limited num­ber of au­tho­rized dis­trib­u­tors will ac­com­plish that,” Hack said.

Jen Pino-Gal­lagher of the state depart­ment of agri­cul­ture, trade and con­sumer pro­tec­tion, said gin­seng gives them an op­por­tu­nity to let ev­ery­one know that Wis­con­sin agri­cul­ture is more than just a dairy and cheese pro­ducer.

“We had over $3.6 bil­lion worth of agri­cul­tural ex­ports last year,” she said. “Wis­con­sin gin­seng is a pre­mium brand and we are work­ing hard to use it to build aware­ness of our agri­cul­tural di­ver­sity.”

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