With a pleasant smile and quick laugh Cathy Ma has helped N.C. companies find niche markets in North America, Europe and Asia for more than two years. Ma, an international trade specialist for the department, works with processed food, meat and seafood producers across the state to identify market opportunities abroad. In addition, she is responsible for coordinating overseas trade missions, hosting inbound mission delegates and organizing food trade shows.
Recently, the department hosted inbound trade missions from Canada and China at the Flavors of Carolina Show in Charlotte and Raleigh, respectively. Ma introduced the delegates to local specialty food companies, arranged one-on-one meetings and escorted the international delegates on tours of some of the local processing facilities.
She also is working on a trade mission to China in May with two N.C. companies. The trip, partly sponsored by the Southern United States Trade Association, will include product demonstrations in Beijing and the SIAL China show in Shanghai. On the trip, Ma will act as liaison and translator for the local companies as they present to Chinese importers and distributors.
China is increasingly becoming a major trading partner for N.C. agricultural exports, and Ma’s contributions have opened up new opportunities for services the department can provide to N.C. companies. For example, she assembled a Chinese language team that has transformed trade missions from broad product overviews into appealing interactive events for buyers.
Cathy Ma was named the 2011 NCDA&CS Employee of the Year for her efforts in a recent presentation in Raleigh. The Employee of the Year is selected from the 12 winners for Employee of the Month. The 2011 Employees of the Month were: