Edible Bozeman

Marketing Montana Pulses in Latin America

Hola Montana

“Hola Montana” literally translated means “Hello Montana,” but this phrase carries a much stronger meaning through the fields in Montana and throughout Latin America. Hola Montana is the branded marketing campaign the Montana Department of Agriculture uses to market Montana-grown pulse crops (peas, lentils, and chickpeas) throughout all of Latin America.

Montana is the number one pulse crop producing state in the U.S. and in 2021, Montana producers planted around 1 million acres of pulses. The next closest state was North Dakota with around 300,000 acres planted. While domestic consumption is on the rise, international markets are where most of the U.S. pulse crops are headed, and Latin American markets in particular are steady, reliable, and ever growing.

Part of my job as a marketing officer for the Department of Agriculture is to connect Montana producers and exporters with international markets through in-person trade missions and relationship building. When COVID stopped travel worldwide, we had to adapt and figure out how to make connections without our in-person trade activities.

Enter Claudia Krevat, owner of Claudia’s Mesa and creator of the Montana Lentil Table. As a long-time Bozeman resident, Colombian native, and chef with a love for pulse crops, there could not have been a more serendipitous pairing to help me with Hola Montana. Claudia and I are both glass-half- full people and when the pandemic hit, we realized with everyone locked down at home and using more shelf-stable food than ever before, we had an opportunity.

Hola Montana launched when we geared up for a virtual trade show put on by AmCham Colombia in June of 2020. The show was very close to a SimCity type of experience: We created our own avatars and used the arrows on our keyboards to walk around and engage in individual chat conversations in a large virtual trade hall. Participation in the show was like a shot in the dark; none of our participating Montana companies had ever done anything like it. Por suerte—luckily, in Spanish—the show was a success with Montana companies reporting $200,000 in sales.

The virtual trade show was just enough success to really light a fire under Hola Montana. Throughout 2021, we traveled around the state filming crop updates and interviewing farmers to create a connection between our consumers and the people growing their food. The interviews were shared with buyers who were eager to learn how the crop was progressing so they could make their buying decisions accordingly.

In 2021, with our official landing page and social media in place, we achieved a reach of over 1 million consumers with more than 500,000 views of our crop update videos.

This success launched us to the next phase of our project: more business-to-business-oriented content like crop update reports, planting projections, and supplies on hand specifically for importers, wholesalers, and retailers of Montana pulses. In less than three months, Hola Montana generated more than 140 business leads.

  • To see what Chef Claudia and crew are creating, download a book of recipes, and maybe learn a little more Spanish, visit holamontana.com and watch for Hola Montana on social media.

Related Posts