Russia is a new export market for Guatemala's fruit and vegetable products. In October of this year, the Frutas Tropicales de Guatemala SA (Frutesa) company sent the first shipments of Chinese peas and sweet peas grown in the country to Russia. Frutesa is also shipping Hass avocado to the Russian market.
According to Gloria Elena Polanco, the founder and president of Frutesa, Russia's biggest demand to date is for prepackaged products that are ready to be placed on supermarket shelves.
Luis Fernando Teo, the commercial director of the company, said that the incursion into the Russian market had been achieved through customers in continental Europe, mainly from the Netherlands and France. He also stated that one of their short-term goals was to reach the Russian markets without intermediaries. In addition, they also seek to have a presence in supermarkets in this region. That's why they are already working to participate in different trade fairs in Europe, such as Fruit Logistics, in Berlin, Germany, and Fruit Attraction, in Madrid, Spain. Another way to do this is to establish contacts with the Russian Embassy in Guatemala, in order to gain support and rapprochement with clients in that country to establish commercial ties more directly.
"It is very important that the Russian market begins to know the products that Guatemala can offer. This is a great possibility to expand to other regions, beyond the traditional European market," he added.
Guatemala's main pea season takes place from November to June and then from mid-July to August. "These are the times where Guatemala can better supply the world's most demanding markets, such as Europe and Russia," stated Teo Polanco.
Opening more markets
According to Fanny D. Estrada, the director of institutional relations of the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (Agexport), even though the country already exports non-fruit and vegetable products to Russia, freight and logistics transportation costs are very high, so they need to continue working on that aspect.
She also said they needed to continue working to diversify the market, as it will help protect the country and producers from the political decisions of other countries to place trade barriers on Guatemalan products, such as the threat of imposing tariffs made by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, because of immigration issues.
According to data from the Bank of Guatemala, up until August 2019, the country's exports to Russia amounted to 7.4 million dollars and its imports totaled 77.5 million.