Export of sopropo, boulanger and pomtajer increasing

Export of Surinam fruit & vegetables: market stagnates

Consultant agencies Q-Point BV in the Netherlands and Capricorn Projekt Ltd in Suriname conducted a survey on Suriname and tropical fruit and vegetable products on the Dutch market and also in the CARICOM region during the period of 2008-2009. The survey was conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (LVV). (The countries of CARICOM region include Suriname, Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and a number of islands in the Caribbean Sea including the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago)

The objective of the market study was the identification of perspectives and specific requirements of new export market channels for Surinamese vegetables and fruit. Tapping into those new export market channels should lead to increased exports. This market study mainly examined the Dutch market and the CARICOM region. Based on the study, a marketing strategy for the export of Surinamese vegetables and fruit potential was created.

Recent market data shows that exports of Surinamese vegetables rose slightly, but that a major shift has occurred in exported products. The export of products like sopropo, boulanger and pomtajer increased. The export of almost all other vegetables (such as ochra, cassava and other leafy greens) decreased. The total export value of fruit and vegetables (excluding bacove) for 2011 is approximately $ 2 million.

Table 1. Overview of a number of vegetable products exported in 2007 and 2011 (Suriname)

The export of Surinamese fruit fell sharply. Especially the citrus exports declined from about 88 tonnes in 2007 to about 14 tonnes in 2011. The first half of 2012 certainly shows no signs of recovery in exports of fruit.

Table 2. Overview of a number of exported fruit products in 2007 and 2011 (Suriname).

The market research revealed a number of problems concerning the small scale of production, poor product quality, residue/MRL problems, lack of a cold chain and lack of certification at production level (GLOBALG.A.P). In the same period, it became apparent that countries in the EU but also in the CARICOM region increasingly demand high quality products with added value. 

If Suriname wants to improve its export position for fruits and vegetables, they will have to investment in a number of areas:

  • Modernization of all aspects of the agricultural sector in Suriname; the focus should be on improving productivity and quality of the products, using available modern technologies and a more efficient use of inputs such as pesticides, fertilisers and water;
  • More attention to product quality based on the EU Generic and Specific marketing standards; the use of packaging material that protects the product as well as the creation of a cooled (logistics) chain for fruit and vegetable products
  • Customers, especially supermarket chains in Europe, generally require producers to be certified according to GLOBALG.A.P and HACCP, and exporters according to IFS, BRC or ISO 22000. Most of the Surinamese fruit and vegetable producers do not meet these requirements at the moment.
The Suriname government should create the preconditions for this, especially in the area of training and education amongst farmers. The Suriname industry itself (both farmers and exporters) will have to take the lead, while more cooperation among farmers is a necessity. Product promotion of Surinamese products is viable if the basic requirements of good quality and a structural supply of products are met. Only then can the production in Surinam be extended and exports developed further.

For more information please contact Carel Jaspers of Q-Point BV (c.jaspers@q-point-bv.nl) or Jenna Wijngaarde of Capricorn Projekt BV (jenna@rdp2.net).



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