PORTLAND – A group of high-level Chinese business leaders will get a close-up look at Maine’s lobster, aquaculture and wild blueberry industries Friday with independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler.

The delegation includes Ning Gaoning, chairman of COFCO — a state-owned conglomerate that include the country’s largest food importer; Liu Mengze, president of Ceroilfood, a subsidiary of COFCO; Fang Fenglei, chairman of the investment fund Hopu; and Guy Cui, a partner in Hopu.

Cutler said he hopes the visit will help build relationships that will eventually generate significant export orders.

Cutler became friends with Fang when he lived in China. Cutler’s law firm did business with Hopu but didn’t represent the business, he said. In recent months, Cutler met Ning through Fang.

“The biggest problem we have in Maine is not the quality of the product we produce but developing the export market and developing the Maine brand,” Cutler said.

The group has a full schedule for Friday, starting on a lobster boat in Casco Bay before touring Portland Shellfish Co. and meeting with industry representatives. Then come visits to Jasper Wyman & Sons’ wild blueberry operations in Cherryfield and Deblois and Maine Halibut Farms in Franklin.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know a little bit, get some contacts and see how the networks develop from there,” said Dane Somers, executive director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council.


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]