From Mendoza, as a test

Argentina to ship cherries, stone fruit and pears to the US

After many years of hard work, Mendoza won recognition from the United States as a fruit fly free zone.

Now that no health or legal obstacles prevent them from accessing that market, economic and logistic factors stand in the way, making it almost impossible for Mendoza's products to arrive in the North American country.

In a chat with Los Andes, the president of Mendoza's Institute for Agricultural Health and Quality (Iscamen), Leandro Montané, said that the protocols regulating the first exports have been approved. "It only remains to establish the quality checks and who will be exporting," he declared.

Initially the inspections could take place at Rio Negro's headquarters of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but logistic costs would be rather high. That is why the idea of opening a controller's office in Mendoza is being considered, despite it being complicated also due to high costs.

The second task, also highly difficult, is finding firms willing to ship their products to the US.

"In the fruit sector there are talks about low profitability. To export to the United States one needs to invest and not everybody can. Producers know that sales to that destination will leave little to no returns. This is why it is necessary to seek incentives in other areas rather than just in profit making," explained Iscamen's president.

The same reality is perceived by Mendoza's Association of Fresh Fruit Producers and Exporters (Aspeff), so a project is being set up to ship various fruits to the US.

Raúl Aruani, manager of the company, said that the Association will arrange a few shipments that will work as a test to get to know the market. "Members of different brands will provide some boxes. We will all come together to make one shipment that, in case it fails, will have a minimal impact on the producers involved," mentioned the industry representative.

Initially, Aspeff's intention is to handle shipments of cherries, some stone fruits, and if possible also of pears. "We think that they are the products with the biggest chance to be successful in the United States. We are aware that our apples, just to give an example, are not to the liking of North American consumers," he expressed.

Alberto Carletti, a famous cherry producer from Mendoza, supported the Association's project and agreed on the potential of the project they are working on, but he lamented the limitations that come with the current economic situation in Argentina.

"It is a very good and concrete opportunity. The United States is a market of constant cherry consumption. The problem is that arriving there involves too great a cost," he pointed out.



Source: Los Andes

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