The production of broccoli in Ecuador has been affected by unusual weather problems in the past two years. Heavy hailstorms in 2013 and a period of high clouds that lasted until the first half of 2014 caused a 30% drop in production until July this year.
Ecuadorian broccoli production is concentrated in a relatively small mountainous area located some 3,000 meters above sea level.
"We don't have many insects because of the high altitude so we can use less pesticides. Another important factor is that, since we are located in the equatorial zone, we can produce all year and the sun is very strong which helps our product acquire a stronger green colour and a sweeter taste," said engineer Pedro José Guarderas of Ecofroz SA.
Ecofroz SA is one of the largest exporters in the country and has nearly 600 acres devoted to the production of broccoli, mainly of the Avenger variety, as well as their own packing facility.
The company exports about 24,000 tons of frozen broccoli per year. Ecofroz's main markets are Japan, where they ship 50% of their production, and Europe and the U.S. market where they send the remaining 50%.
While Ecuador has the potential to open new markets for broccoli in markets such as Russia and the Middle East, the decline in production has forced the country to put that possibility on hold, as they must first meet their prior commitments.
"I don't think our product has a great potential in Russia because, unlike Japan, it is a market that is more concerned about price than quality," said Guarderas.
According to the engineer, the production began to stabilize in July and the weather conditions are now normal, so there should be a recovery in volume by the end of 2014 and in 2015.
Even though the company doesn't produces organic broccoli yet, they do have a kosher production and a pesticide-free product.
"Organic production without fertilizer use has a much lower productivity. It is far more expensive and only pays 30% more than the conventional production. In our opinion, there should be a 60% difference in value for it to be appealing," he said.
Pedro José GuarderasECOFROZ S.A.
M: +593 99 1317757 email@example.com www.ecofroz.com