BEIJING (AP) -- Tons of Chinese-made goods, from computers to catfish, flow west. But American ginseng goes the other way.
U.S. farmers grow about 650,000 pounds of the bitter root each year, most of it in Wisconsin. They rely almost exclusively on sales to China. And after years of declining profits due to new competition from Canadian and Chinese farmers, those in Wisconsin are defending their brand and hoping to tap a growing Chinese middle-class market.
To do this, they've cut a deal with a 360-year-old Chinese pharmacy that once served China's emperors.
The deal gives Tong Ren Tang the exclusive right to sell 400,000 pounds of Wisconsin ginseng in more than 1,000 stores over the next five years. The company says it will position the Wisconsin root as a premium product.