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Sayuri Sakihama Meléndez, from PromPerú:

Peru invites hundreds of fruit importers to its country every year

With 34 million inhabitants, Peru has twice the population of the Netherlands, and in terms of area, the South American country is 31 times larger. On the coast of Peru, a desert area that is three times the size of the Netherlands, the horticultural production did not start to develop substantially until about 25 years ago, giving rise to the Andean country's strongly export-oriented vocation.

On the left is Sayuri Sakihama Meléndez, to her right is Juan Antonio Portugal Quinteros

This is precisely the focus of the work of PromPeru, the Commission for the Promotion of Peru for Export and Tourism, an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR). With 30 offices in Chile, Brazil, the United States, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, among other countries, it is devoted to promoting exports, business investments and tourism. Offices have also been established in various regions of Peru, from where they seek and assist new companies interested in entering the international market.

The focus is increasingly on the Asian market
"About 60% of PromPeru's budget is allocated to the promotion of tourism; the other 40% goes to the promotion of foreign business investments in Peru, the promotion of Peruvian exports of all kinds of products and the promotion of the Peru brand. When it comes to export promotion, the agribusiness sector is the one receiving the most resources," says Sayuri Sakihama Meléndez, Deputy Director for Commercial Promotion, who leads one of the three departments of the Export Promotion Directorate.

"While our main markets are the U.S. and Europe, our current policy is to seek greater diversification, looking also towards Asia, with an eye on countries like China, South Korea and Japan," says Juan Antonio Portugal Quinteros, Coordinator of the Department of Agribusiness and Fishery Products. "In terms of volume, blueberries are one of our most important export products in China. Shipping to China has the disadvantage of very long transit times, between 35 and 45 days, so not all exporters dare to venture into this market. When working with such distant markets, the post-harvest shelf life of fruits becomes vitally important."

"However, the reason why we are focusing so much on the Chinese market lately is because the transit time is expected to be reduced to 25 days in the near future thanks to a new maritime route to Shanghai. Moreover, there are plans for eight new routes to connect the port of Callao with various ports in Asia, which could even turn Peru into a hub for other countries. Also, while the markets of the U.S and Europe are already consolidated for many products, China is a new market for several, and Peru could contribute to ensuring greater price stability by supplying substantial volumes without interruptions," says Juan Antonio.

Building trust through company visits
PromPeru also participates in fairs and trade missions, and is involved in the organization of promotional campaigns in the retail sector. "At the major trade fairs in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, we welcome potential buyers and help them get in touch with the right Peruvian exporting companies. Also, when a business roundtable is organized in Peru, we invite them to our country, as part of the hosted buyers program. After the business roundtables, we encourage them to visit the facilities of the Peruvian companies, which undoubtedly generates more trust than when contact is made purely through phone calls or emails. We invite between 150 and 400 agribusiness importing companies to our country every year," says Sayuri.

Potential buyers at trade fairs are mostly interested in avocados, according to Juan Antonio. "In this regard, South Korea is an important market, not only for avocados, but also for grapes and mangos. It's not the largest market, but if Koreans put their eyes on a product, they immediately import substantial quantities. And despite a transit time of between 28 and 45 days, we manage to deliver good quality mangos to that destination."

Spanish companies are interested in the Peruvian off-season production
Regarding the situation in the Red Sea, as undesirable as it is for global trade, the blockade is creating some opportunities for Peru, since maritime routes from Asia to Europe have become longer, as ships have to go round the Cape of Good Hope. "Meanwhile, transit from Peru to Rotterdam or Valencia takes only 19 to 21 days. Also, the port of Valencia is becoming more important, as producing and marketing companies in Spain, where the fruit campaigns do not overlap with those of Peru, are increasing their imports of Peruvian products in the off-season with the aim of being able to offer continuity in the supply to their European clients. Blueberries serve as a good example of this, with Peru currently supplying around 30% of the total volume traded in the global market, which is estimated at approximately one million tons," says the Deputy Director for Commercial Promotion.

Market intelligence service
The three objectives of the Export Promotion Directorate are the promotion of Peruvian products, the training of exporters and offering a market intelligence service. The latter is becoming increasingly important, according to Juan Antonio. "In the past, we were focused on the results of exports, but now we are trying to focus on future market trends with the aim of guiding companies to success and development. For example, we have noticed that, when it comes to exports, the share of processed products is growing faster than that of fresh products, so we are conveying this message to Peruvian companies. Italy serves as a great example. The country is masterfully handling the production of horticultural products with added value, as illustrated by its wide range of tomato sauces."

With few Peruvian companies venturing into the production of value-added products, PromPeru has taken on the task of persuading the agricultural sector about the importance of processing into juices, oils and even products for the cosmetic industry. The agency highlights the use of second-class blueberries, estimated at 5% of the harvest, which in Peru's case constitutes a substantial volume of approximately 15,000 tons. "By exporting this volume as a frozen product, losses due to discards are minimized," says Sayuri.

Peruvian agricultural companies comply with strict European standards
One of the great challenges for Peruvian exporters is meeting the regulations and demands imposed by the destination countries. "In terms of packaging, laws are becoming more restrictive regarding the use of plastic. We try to provide the right information to exporting companies so that they can overcome the barriers that exist in international trade. Regarding labor issues, Peruvian exporting companies must comply with labor regulations in order to meet the standards of the international markets. The Peruvian administration is making a great effort to supervise these standards in exporting companies," says the Deputy Director of Commercial Promotion.

For more information:
Sayuri Sakihama Meléndez (Deputy Director for Commercial Promotion)
Calle 21 N.º 713, 2nd Floor, Ed. Quattro
San Isidro, Lima, Peru
Tel.: +51 1 616 7300
Mobile: +51 941 103 260
[email protected]

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