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Peru: Finding niche markets for Peruvian potatoes is essential

The Peruvian potato is undergoing a process of transformation, Peru is the leading producer of potatoes in Latin America, however the country still lacks export policies to other niche markets, where the native potato would have no competition.

This was the main topic addressed by André Devaux, the regional director of the International Potato Center - CIP, who is one of the main speakers of the Tenth World Potato Congress in the city of Cusco.

The director highlighted that Peru is the leading producer of potatoes in Latin America with 4.5 million tons per year, followed by Brazil with 3.2 million tons. He also said that, thanks to the 10 year effort made through government policies and CIP investigation, Peru led consumption with 80 kilos of potatoes per capita, followed by Bolivia with 55 kilos, Ecuador with 30, and Colombia with 21 kilos.

Gastronomic boom and potatoes
The specialist stressed that one factor in promoting potato consumption was the gastronomic boom and the promotion of Peruvian cuisine, highlighting the potato's nutritious properties, its biodiversity and even the social role played by the native potatoes in Peru.

"We had a committed private sector and a favorable context. In Europe and the United States the consumption trend is down, they went from consuming 100 kilos to 70 because there were changes in consumer trends. People moved to the cities and, due to time pressure, they eat processed and easy to make foods," he said.

The importance of niche markets
The specialist said that finding niche markets to make exports viable was a fundamental task that must be addressed by the Government, in order to find more and better opportunities to sale the product abroad.

"Why would people in Europe, for example, buy the same potatoes from us if they are cheaper there? We should work with native potatoes and produce products, such as colored potato chips for example. It's a product that has a high demand in Europe, due to its novelty value, and it would even be better if we made it from organic potatoes," Devaux said.

He also said that the so-called ethnic market, made up of expats, was another important niche.

"Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Colombian and other migrants like to rediscover their products. For example, consumers in the US can find cooked Peruvian yellow potatoes; naturally, a Peruvian immigrant would buy it immediately and the local potatoes wouldn't be able to compete with this product," he said.

Finally, he called on the State to improve the services it provides to the agricultural sector: technical assistance, access to information and credits at manageable rates, so that producers have capital. "We already discussed this with the Minister of Agriculture to help the Ministry with the chains and associativity issues. Hopefully they'll make these improvements in a very short time," he said.


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