The Andean nation has become an emerging success story in the global fresh produce sector, and at the inaugural Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference on November 2-4, Peru will announce a bid to enhance its status further by becoming a major force in sustainable, fair-trade and organic fresh produce exports to Europe
Erick Garcia, director of Peru’s Trade Commission in the Netherlands, explains that although conventional fruit accounts for 90% of the country’s fresh produce exports, Peruvian exporters are confident the sustainable category will assume far greater significance in the near future.
Already the globe’s leading organic banana exporter – it should be noted that the country has no conventional banana production – Garcia says Peru is well suited to producing organic, sustainable fresh fruits and vegetables due to its exceptional weather and high levels of daylight.
“We have the coast, which is a desert where you don’t have rains – the temperature varies between 14 and 30°C year round, so you don’t extremely high or extremely low temperatures, meaning any product can be produced there,” he says.
“Peru is also the country with the most daylight in the world, so we are able to produce a lot per square metre without chemicals because we do not have rains – this is quite a big advantage.”
Already well recognised as a leading conventional fresh produce exporter, Garcia says the Peruvian Trade Commission will be using its presence at the show to reinforce the message that the country is also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to sustainable products, adding that representatives will also highlight Peru’s policy of not allowing use of genetically modified seeds.
“Some 90% of our fresh produce exports are still conventional, but we expect the share of sustainable, that is fair-trade, sustainable and organic, products to increase over the next couple of years,” says Garcia. “So far, Peru is also among the countries that do allow import of GM seeds, so we try to preserve our natural species.”
However, the country’s efforts to deliver a more sustainable supply chain extend far beyond export of the products themselves. Garcia says one area where Peru is making considerable progress is in the broadening and expansion of the nation’s middle class thanks to the implementation of a fairer wage structure across sectors, including among fresh produce companies. From a pyramid, he says the structure of Peru’s class distribution now resembles a diamond as a result of efforts to introduce improved salaries for workers across the board. “This means our labour costs are increasing, but we are also seeing a healthier and fairer economy,” Garcia says.
In terms of sheer volumes, the Netherlands, followed by Spain, counts as Peru’s most important market for fresh produce in Europe, principally importing table grapes and avocados, as well as mangos, organic bananas and asparagus.
However, both markets are essentially ports of entry, with 90% of Peruvian fresh produce imports into the Netherlands re-exported to neighbouring Germany. When it comes to sales and numbers of consumers buying the products, Garcia says Germany, France and the UK are far and away the country’s most important markets for its fruit and vegetable exports.
Following a successful consumer-focused campaign for avocados in Spain and Germany supported by the Peruvian Avocado Commission, Garcia adds that further promotional work could be in the pipeline for the 12 months ahead.