Costa Rican fruit and vegetable exporters are looking ahead to a positive 2018 as they continue to offer an increasingly diverse supply of produce items as well as the capacity to meet new regulatory requirements.
Statistics through to October 2017 (the latest officially available) show Costa Rica exported close to US$2.4bn in agricultural exports to the world, a growth of 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.
The US remains the main destination country, accounting for US$1.09bn of this total.
“Costa Rica remains a strong, reliable and versatile exporter of produce,” said Pedro Beirute, CEO of trade promotion agency Procomer. “We expect to close out 2017 with over US$2.7bn in agricultural exports.”
Led by the banana and pineapple industry, Costa Rica’s exports to the world continue to grow and diversify and include strong offerings in yucca, melons, chayote and other fruits.
Procomer export statistics indicate banana export volume increased over 25 per cent from 2015 to 2017, pineapples by almost 14 per cent, yucca by 12 per cent, watermelon by 57 per cent, and chayote by 33 per cent.
“We expect growth in these highly demanded products to continue in 2018,” said Beirute.
“The US continues to demand new and unique products due to the increase in ethnic diversity in the population as well as consumers’ expanding pallet.
“As consumers seek out more tropical, exotic and ethnic items, Costa Rica will play a key role in providing some of this high quality, reliable supply. With more than 145 varieties of fruits and vegetables and more than 365 exporters shipping to the US, Costa Rica represents a wealth of potential products for any market.”
Among the products singled out for greater development are ginger, rambutan, a variety of specialty melons, beets, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, root products, and organics.
“Costa Rican exporters have long been characterised as serious, trustworthy, professional partners,” said Beirute. “It only makes sense for US buyers to look a country with our track record of reliability and quality as they seek more and new products.”
As US importers prepare for implementation and enforcement of the Foreign Supplier Verification Programme (FSVP) of the new Food Safety Modernisation Act, Costa Rican exporters believe they are in a key position to help US buyers meet these new regulations.
“Costa Rica’s produce export sector is built on a history of regulatory and quality compliance,” said Beirute.
“Our exporters have for decades proven their ability to meet the most stringent standards to export to Europe as well as the US. Many of our exporters are GlobalGAP compliant and many have ISO, Kosher, USDA Organic, and Fair Trade certifications, among others. This reflects the country's commitment to quality, health and environment.”
Additionally, Costa Rican exporters receive support from Procomer to help bolster compliance.
“Procomer has been working hand-in-hand with suppliers to the US,” continued Beirute.
“We facilitate certificated audits and train exporter personnel in risk management and preventive controls to help them comply with quality and food safety standards as well as good agricultural practices.
“This helps our exporters meet the standards set forth in the FSVP and demonstrates the quality of our exportable offering.”