Interview with Daniel Oppermann from Import Promotion Desk:

Great growth potential in German markets for exotics from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru

The Import Promotion Desk, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), mediates between German importers and medium-sized "exporters in emerging growth markets". Daniel Oppermann, a specialist in sourcing and marketing fresh fruits and vegetables, spoke with us about, among other things, the import of blueberries, avocados and mangos from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru to Germany and Europe in general, as well as other trends, such as the share of organic cultivation in the respective countries.

Daniel Oppermann. Image: IPD

FreshPlaza: How do you assess the demand for products such as avocados, mangoes, blueberries and bananas from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in Germany?
Daniel Oppermann: We are currently receiving many inquiries about blueberries in particular. The source country is almost irrelevant. Demand currently exceeds supply. Peruvian producers have the advantage that Peru is already established as a country of origin for blueberries. Colombia and Ecuador, however, are quickly catching up. Both countries traditionally produce a lot of cut flowers and some flower exporters have switched to blueberries in recent years. They are benefiting from their vast experience in handling perishable goods and already established processes.

Avocados are now a standard product in many supermarkets, i.e. the demand is there, even if growth is currently no longer comparable to the boom years. Germany is still one of the countries with the greatest growth potential within Europe. However, the worldwide increase in production capacities also makes it more difficult to predict market developments and entails the risk of oversupply and price erosion, for example, when large quantities enter the market during the Peruvian season. The development in Ecuador is interesting, where they have only started to grow avocado for export in the last few years. First deliveries to Europe were promising - according to our experience.

The market for mangoes is very volatile, with a strongly fluctuating supply. Overall, however, we see good demand with constant growth, especially if producers, such as our partner company, can supply consistent volumes, of consistent quality. Again, Peru is ahead of the game. In Ecuador there are many producers, but they often focus on the North American market. On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, producers of sugar mango, a small, sweet and low-fiber variety for the premium segment, are currently positioning themselves.

Bananas are and will remain a difficult market. Low prices have presented producers with enormous challenges for years. Russia's war with Ukraine has exacerbated the situation. Around 20 percent of Ecuador's banana production went to Russia until recently. This market has now collapsed. The already high cost of fertilizers will continue to rise. Rising energy prices in logistics, for cooling or ripening facilities are also affecting production costs.

How high is demand for Peruvian blueberries in particular and how is production developing there?
Demand in Europe has increased significantly in recent years, although there is still potential for development compared to North America. For example, consumers in Europe consume on average between 200 and 300g of blueberries per year, while consumption in the U.S. is 1.3kg. In Canada it even reaches 2kg. Blueberries have boomed as a healthy snack in times of Corona, as consumers value their health-promoting properties. At the same time, the pandemic has made logistics enormously difficult. Peru, along with Chile and Morocco, is the most important supplier to Europe outside the European season. At the same time, Peru can supply over a relatively long period of time, as different regions with different harvest times are suitable for growing blueberries. Therefore, the IPD has some blueberry suppliers from Peru, but also from other IPD partner countries in its program.

How much competition is there from Spain for these products?
Regionality is also a trend for these products, which is an advantage for Spain. But the supply there is not sufficient to meet European demand throughout the year Procurement markets such as Ecuador, Colombia and Peru are therefore interesting. This is one reason why we have included these countries as partner countries in our program.

Are there other avocado varieties besides "Hass" that are grown or marketed?
In Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, many different varieties of avocado are grown, in addition to Hass, e.g. Fuerte, Lorena, Santana, Ettinger, Reed or Edranol. For export to Europe, however, Hass has by far the largest role to play. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that consumers are used to Hass avocados. IPD companies also specialize in Hass avocados for export.

Can we expect any supply bottlenecks or difficulties this year, both in terms of air and sea transport?
The logistics situation is extremely tight. Producers in the IPD program tell us that they are currently having enormous problems finding containers for their goods and that many times the usual prices are being demanded. The situation is similar for air freight. The reasons for this are, on the one hand, the pandemic that has been going on for two years, with all its consequences such as lockdowns in Chinese ports, the lack of passenger air travel and the resulting loss of additional loading capacity, etc. The war in Ukraine is now putting an additional strain on already disrupted supply chains, due to rising energy costs or due to the fact that freight to Russia and Ukraine has to be diverted to other ports.

What is the share or what are the growth rates of organic production in the three countries compared to conventional local production?
Demand for organic products in Europe again has increased in 2021, despite record growth in the previous year. Domestic European production of fruits and vegetables cannot meet this high demand alone. Producers in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru have recognized this trend and are already among the most important suppliers of organic products to the EU.

We at IPD also show companies the potential of organic products for export in our program. We advise producers on the possibilities and the certification process. Many companies recognize the opportunities of organic production. However, traded volumes are still low compared to conventional goods, so smaller productions are also interesting for European buyers. In relation to conventional agriculture, organic production is still a niche. Only about one percent of agricultural land in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru is used for organic farming. But our experience shows that more and more producers are turning to organic farming, as consumers are increasingly asking for organic products.

For more information:
Daniel Oppermann
Import Promotion Desk
c/o sequa gGmbH
Alexanderstr. 10
D-53111 Bonn
Tel.: +49 (0) 228 909 0081 0 

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