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Ana Lucia Alameda, Ricas:

"Germans will pay for good quality air freight mangoes"

Flown-in fruit is a luxury item that, in these times of inflation, is having an increasingly tough time. Yet in 2018, Ana Lucia Alameda, originally from Peru, established her export company Ricas, which specializes in air freight fruit. Two years ago, she began marketing this under the company brand. From a sales office in the Netherlands, she works directly with several Peruvian growers. "With our flown-in mangoes, we focus on quality over quantity," begins Ana Lucia.

Five years ago, she moved from Peru to the Netherlands and fell in love with the country. "I already worked in the fruit trade in Peru, selling bananas from the Piura region to local markets in the capital Lima. When I got to the Netherlands, I thought, 'Why not export these beautiful Peruvian products to Europe'?"

And when Ana Lucia got the opportunity to start the company, she did just that. "We specialize in air freight mangoes. Production to packaging is done in Peru, then, during the season, the mangoes come to Amsterdam weekly. We collect those and export mainly to Germany, but we also have French, Italian, and Dutch customers," she says.

Ricas started with conventional mangoes but wants to gradually switch to organic fruit. "We work directly with several good growers in Peru, with whom we want to select the best fruit to export to Europe. Together, we're trying to switch entirely to flown-in organic mangoes and develop that trade. We, unfortunately, don't yet have the European certificates to sell these as organic, but we hope to get those in the coming years."

Germans willing to pay for good quality mangoes
The Peruvian mango season usually runs from around October to May. "However, this season will extend to June. That's mainly because of this year's high productions from that country. The fruit's ideal conditions are from December through March/April, so around this time, their quality is optimal. This is also when growers need to earn their money, The high volumes have, however, affected the market. The sky-high supply means prices have plummeted," says Ana Lucia.

She adds that that is a significant difference from last season when prices remained quite high. "This season is completely different. The Peruvian season can be divided into three regions. It starts in the north, in Piura, where a lot of industry mangoes originate. This year, there are 40% more of those, and this surplus has led to prices that are too low for growers to earn nicely."

Alameda notices a difference in demand in the various markets. "Germany is our main sales market. There, despite high inflation, people are still willing to pay for good quality exotic fruit. Air freight mangoes are somewhat more expensive than sea freight ones, but quality always wins out. However, the impact in countries like France or the Netherlands is much greater. There, people are more budget-conscious, so cheaper options are sometimes more attractive," she explains.

Guaranteeing quality
Outside the Peruvian mango season, Ricas focuses on fruit from places like Mexico and Egypt for the European market. "For us, quality is always paramount. We're not fully automated, as sea freight often is. We aren't a machine; we work with smaller volumes, so we can always monitor quality well."

"In Peru, I work with a family business that constantly 'manages' the product from production to harvesting and packaging. We naturally want to guarantee this quality from our other countries of origin as well, so we're always looking for the right partnerships," Ana Lucia continues.

The company wants to continue the recent years' growth. "There are several steps to that. Flown-in passion fruit is one, and we want to start this from Peru soon. But a definite goal is to establish the brand firmly in, especially German, supermarkets. We also want to build a packing plant in Peru."

"We have reliable suppliers there and in the Netherlands. Finding the right people in this business is difficult, but with those we have found, we can expand in the coming year. Eventually, we also want to make a step in quantity, but quality will always triumph," Ana Lucia concludes.

For more information:
Ana Lucia Alameda
690 Weena
3012 CN, Rotterdam, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 108 990 985
Email: [email protected] 

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