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Peru upbeat on blossoming agri export potentialTuesday, March 08, 2016 > 14:08:53
(Fresh Fruit Portal)
Peru has seen significant growth in its agricultural sector in the past few years, particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables.
The developing nation is taking ambitious steps to overcome several challenges in order to continue developing this sector.
"This favorable growth in modern agriculture has made us aware of the importance of the sector for Peru's economic and commercial development, but also its contribution on a social level," said Association of Agricultural Producer Unions (AGAP) president Enrique Camet.
"We've seen an annual growth of 20% in the last 10 years."
Camet said despite the difficulties last year due to international challenges and the El Niño weather phenomenon, the sector still saw double-digit growth.
"2015 was not our best year. Peru's total non-traditional agricultural exports grew 3%. However, the fresh fruit and vegetable sector grew by a significant 13% in value, and by 8% in volume, reaching US$2.15 billion," he said.
The forecast for this year continues to be positive and is predicated on weather conditions and the economic situation in certain markets.
The country is expected to reach at least a 10% growth in the value of fruit and vegetable exports, and 12% in volume. By 2021, the country hopes to double its exports.
"The star product without a doubt has been the blueberry," he said.
Blueberry exports soared 223% in value and 262% in volume last year.
"This supply began in 2011 at US$100,000. Last year this grew to US$97 million, and this year we hope to exceed US$250 million."
Exports of pomegranates and capsicum were also strong. Producers of this fruit and vegetable are aiming to win over the North American market this year with their produce's appearance.
Exports of other fruits and vegetables included bananas, pecans, passion fruit, watermelons, peaches, pineapples, dates, coconuts, melons, ginger, cherimoyas, zucchini, garlic and sweet corn.
Camet said efforts were being made to develop new fruits such as cherries, raspberries and kiwis, among others.
While sector-wide growth remained stable, adverse weather conditions affected production of avocados, citrus and other produce. Growth of these crops did not meet expectations, but production is set to recover this season, according to the AGAP head.
Because of the recurrence of El Niño and its significant impact on the sector, preventative measures have been taken to lessen the effects of climate change.
These include: protecting and reinforcing the use of river water; river, riverbed and canal siltation management; employee training; reinforced warehouse infrastructure; construction designed to reduce the effects of torrential rains; and ensuring energy sources.
"It is impossible to control the sometimes devastating effects of adverse climate change, but we can face the situation and mitigate the damage," he said.
He explained that various Peruvian organic crops including banana, coffee and cocoa were top ranked on a global scale.
The country also produces organic mangoes and passion fruit, among other crops.
Regarding genetically modified products, in 2011 Law 29811 was approved which implemented a 10-year moratorium on the entry and production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on national territory.
According to Camet, one challenge Peru must face as a developing country is phytosanitary access to new markets, such as Asia.
"This sanitary challenge also has a domestic scope, which is to control the border to avoid the entrance of diseases and pests, as well as the double effort to control crop sanitation."
He said another challenge was fostering the development of the per capita consumption of certain fresh fruits and vegetables.
Competition and target markets
Peru competes with several countries for access to external markets, depending on the product. Target markets include Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America.
According to Camet, Peru must focus on a cooperative development which allows the country to compete and cooperate simultaneously.
A good example of this cooperation is the World Avocado Organization (WAO) which promotes the consumption of avocados in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world, through joint marketing programs.
"We think this type of innovative closeness can have a really positive impact on the growth of Peruvian Hass avocados," he said.
Asia and the Middle East are on Peru's radar and seem promising, according to Camet.
In fact, Peru expects China and Hong-Kong to soon open their markets to blueberries and pomegranates.
Another country of interest is Japan. A lack of phytosanitary protocol has halted the process of exporting Peruvian produce to the Asian nation.
South Korea is another priority market for Peru, and is the ninth largest export destination for the country's fresh fruit. In 2015, Peruvian exports of fresh produce to South Korea grew 35% year-on-year.
Grapes are shipped regularly to the Asian nation, and the country recently approved the sanitary protocol for Peruvian mangoes.
He said the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India were not priority markets at the moment.
"In Latin America, Chile and Ecuador receive increasing volumes of Peruvian fruit, growing their supply last year by 69% and 76% respectively," he said.
"The Mexican market, one of our partners in the Pacific Alliance, is still a very small market for Peruvian fruit and vegetable exports in absolute terms. We are working on that, particularly regarding phytosanitary access.
"In Peru, we've grown optimistic about our agro-exporting possibilities, convinced that we will continue progressing on a very competitive product with top quality."
However, he said the country was conscious of the fact that it had challenges to overcome and a still a bit of work to be done.