Chile: Discovering the Lo Vallador wholesale market

In a country that is very narrow but over 4,000 km long, logistics is a challenge. Yet Chile managed to become a leading exporter of high-quality fruit.

During the tour to promote Macfrut 2018 in Peru and Chile, President Renzo Piraccini had the chance to visit the Santiago wholesale market as well as a few retail stores.

Trucks leaving for smaller local markets

"The Santiago wholesale market is called Lo Vallador. It covers 80 hectares, employs 1000 operators and handles approximately 2 million tons of produce every year."

Around 20% of operators are both wholesalers and retailers. Some are pure wholesalers and others are producers or cooperatives that sell their produce directly.

The buyers are: Chilean regional markets, local markets in Santiago and the H&R channel. Approximately 60% of Chilean fresh produce passes by Lo Vallador.

Renzo Piraccini, left, with Dino Alvares from Ice and a Market representative.

"What really struck me is that there is no connection between Chilean exporters. They operate with very high qualitative standards and in modern structures, while this market resembles those in developing countries. Only second-category produce or discarded batches are destined to the general market."

The market is open between 10 pm to 5 pm 6 days a week. It's closed for cleaning on Sundays. The produce comes from Arica, a tropical area near Peru 2,500 km from Santiago, and from Puerto Mont, located 1,000 km south.

80% of the produce handled comes from Chile. Imports are mostly bananas, pineapples and mangoes from Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. They also import garlic from China and counterseasonal apples and peaches from the US. 

Many workers come from Haiti, as immigration from Haiti has been adding to the more traditional one from Peru and Ecuador over the past few years, causing a lot of social tension.

"Modern retail is a whole different world. The Jumbo supermarket we visited was characterised by great quality, imported produce and good service. It feels like being in Europe or in the US."

Renzo Piraccini, left, with the produce and fresh products managers of the Jumbo chain.   

The supermarket is part of Chilean group Cencosud, which owns over 1000 stores all over South America, 250 of which in Chile.

Publication date: 10/6/2017

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