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Wal-Mart starts proper produce production in Nicaragua
strong potential for produce exports to US and EU

Tholen - When a retail giant starts its proper produce production in a low wage country, with the strategic perspective of supplying local supermarkets and exports to western markets, it concerns an import development. Now this is exactly what is happening in Nicaragua.

The Wal-Mart group in Central America is the owner of produce supplier Hortifruti in Nicaragua. Hortifruti Nicaragua supplies fruit and vegetables to the supermarket chains La Unión and Palí, which are also Wal-Mart property. As Hortifruti is continuously growing more different kinds of produce in Nicaragua itself, it is increasingly less reliant on produce imports. The climate, water supply and soil in Nicaragua are all very adequate for produce cultivation, while labour is cheap in a way that Costa Rica, for example, attracts a lot of labour from Nicaragua.

According to Milton Ramos, the purchasing manager of Hortifruti Nicaragua, the imports of produce have decreased from $ 40 mln. to $ 6 mln. in the past 8 years. However, imports of broccoli and cauliflower are still necessary and baby-vegetables are still an expensive import product. This is why Hortifruti stimulates its growers to grow these products their selves, thus rendering any imports completely redundant. However, crop production is developing positively enough for Nicaragua to export fruits and vegetables already, as one sells cucumbers and bananas in Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador.

Hortifruti Nicaragua hopes to further build up the potential of the country by expanding the exports of produce to miscellaneous destinations, such as Europe and the US. Also Nicaragua can serve to supply all Wal-Mart supermarkets in Central America.

Publication date: 26 April 2006