Peru will play an increasingly important role in supplying fresh fruits and vegetables to the Asian market as its production continues to expand. This was the view of key players in Asia who took part in last week’s Eurofruit Southern Hemisphere Congress in Lima.
Liu Zijie of leading Chinese marketer Goodfarmer Fruits and Vegetables said Peruvian exporters should take advantage of their strong winter grape supply window to introduce new products such as avocados and blueberries.
“Five or six years ago blueberries were relatively unknown in China but now demand is booming thanks to their health and nutritional attributes. The same could happen for avocados which have the potential to become the new super food,” he said.
Liu added that the strong potential for avocados and other Peruvian products has prompted Goodfarmer to look to open sourcing office in the Andean country.
Mike Soulsby of Delica Global explained that the company’s recent decision to invest in table grape production in northern Peru through a joint venture with Unifrutti formed part of its strategy to solidify its supply base in the country and assume more direct control over the varieties produced.
“What some Peruvian growers have lacked is the commercial information about what varieties the market wants,” he said. “Unifrutti have a widely respected nursery in Chile and high level of expertise in this field. Combined with Delica’s experience on the marketing side the partnership makes good commercial sense for everyone.”
Leo Cruz of Tesco pointed out that Peru already plays a key strategic role in the retailer’s global food sourcing division and volumes are growing by 8-10 per cent every year.
“Peru supports our two largest markets – Europe and Asia, filling important supply gaps in key categories such as grapes, berries and citrus,” he said, adding that Peru’s greatest advantage Peru has is that it can grow almost year-round.
Cruz noted that in-store countrywide promotions featuring not just fresh produce but also fish and other Peruvian exports had the potential to further boost sales.
“A few years ago the range of products we sourced from Peru was very limited but this is increasing every year. Peru is in strategic position to tackle all requirements and tap into all our markets.”
Wipavee Watcharakorn of leading Thai importer Vachamon imports around 300 containers of Red Globe grapes from Peru a year but said this had the potential to reach 1,000-2,000 containers in the next five years.
“Going forward we think there’s good potential for Peru to supply red seedless varieties in the January window,” she stated. At the moment we rely on imports by air from Australia but they are very expensive.”
However, she noted that in green seedless varieties Peru would find it difficult to compete with India.