Peru: Baby bananas could be the replacement for coca leaf

Patt Fresh is a Peruvian company devoted to the sales of various fresh products. "In the past we were oriented towards mangoes and avocados, as well as the so-called "nostalgic products", intended for Latin consumers in Europe, although at the moment we are focusing on the production of baby bananas," explains Wilfredo Silva, General Manager of the firm.

Patt Fresh works in Eastern Peru; a region which they were forced to abandon due to terrorist threats. After a few years, they established themselves once again in the area, with some fear, but with the determination to purchase land and set up plantations to demonstrate that baby bananas are a profitable crop and a viable option to replace coca leaf.

The company has a strong social commitment, as it provides producers with the necessary training to exploit the potential of a crop that pretty much grows naturally in the area. "It is true that we seek financial gain, but we are also aware that without the community, the neighbours and the local growers, we cannot do much," affirms Wilfredo.

Patt Fresh owns 16 hectares, with 10 already set up and another 8 in the process after the purchase of 20 more hectares. It also stocks local produce, grown in a natural way, such as Lady Finger and purple bananas, although baby bananas remain as the main focus.

"We plan to acquire 100 hectares within the next five years and bring local growers together, who accumulate around 500-600 hectares, to form a strong association and protect this crop," explains Wilfredo.

Patt Fresh is the exclusive supplier of Cencosud Perú and is preparing the launch of its Lady Finger bananas for this supermarket chain. Regarding certifications, they are still in the process of obtaining them, although the plantations have never been intensively exploited, nor have any chemicals been used, and thus the process should not be too hard. Wilfredo assures that, "we have hired a specialised technician to help us obtain the certification in less than a year."

Regarding markets, most of the production is shipped to the demanding local market, but there are plans to try entering France, Germany and the United States. Despite the recession, Europe continues to pay good prices and the United States offers great opportunities due to the window left open by Ecuador, which is its main supplier. "Initially, we will use air shipments because of the low volumes, but as soon as we grow we will consider maritime shipments," concludes Wilfredo Silva.

For more information:
Patt Fresh
Wilfredo Silva, General Manager
Telefax: +51 1 3248232
skype: willybanana

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