Grupo Asica is introducing automated packing lines and adding much needed extra capacity at its Tambo Grande packhouse in northern Peru in time for next season. The company has seen strong growth in its ready-to-eat mango and avocado programmes in Europe and the US and is eyeing new export opportunities.
According to Kent Lancaster, demand for tree ripened and fresh-cut mangoes is rising steadily in both markets.
“Mangoes ripened at source have to be airfreighted, which is extremely expensive, but we work with our European partners to supply retailers with ready-to-eat mangoes that are ripened upon reaching their destination market and are the same – if not better – quality than airflown arrivals, but cost a fraction to ship,” he said.
“Thanks to the latest ripening and NIR technology it is possible to detect internal defects and measure internal pressure to assess the ripeness of the fruit to ensure it meets the specifications of each particular client.”
In spite of a complicated production season caused by El Niño, the company managed to maintain relatively stable supplies throughout the season, shipping a total of 253 containers.
“We had a production spike at the beginning of the season when there simply wasn’t a market because Brazil was still shipping, and this weakened prices somewhat,” Lancaster said. “Prices did pick up from week 6 onwards, once the arrival of quality fruit started to pick up, but then the season was brought to an abrupt end because of the heavy rains in Piura.”
Meanwhile, following the successful launch of organic Fairtrade ginger this year Asica is looking at introducing other organic and Fairtrade products to its line-up such as pineapples. The ginger is sourced from producers in the Peruvian rainforest as part of the company’s social inclusion programme which seeks to improve the lives of Amazonian communities. This is done in two ways: firstly by providing employment to help towards the local economy and secondly through reforestation schemes.
“CSR is a key part of who we are and every year the company invests a percentage of its profits into private social initiatives,” Lancaster said. “For example, we provide resources and materials to the local school in the San Lorenzo Valley where our mangoes are grown, and are investing in a nursery where families can leave their children while they go to work.”