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Ricardo Solorzano Cadillo, from Sol de Olmos:

"Peruvian limes have 25% more juice than Mexican limes"

After 10 years of experience, the agro-exporting company Sol de Olmos has become Peru's leading garlic exporter, the third-largest in dried chilies and the fourth in limes, and it continues to aim high. Its next goal is to become the second or third largest exporter of limes this year 2024. "We started our journey in food production in 2014, planting garlic, bell peppers and red chili in the city of Barranca," says financial manager Ricardo Solorzano Cadillo.

"In 2014, we started exporting bell peppers to Mexico and the following year we entered the US market. Over the years, we have expanded the range of exportable products with bananas, ginger and avocados, and we currently have our own fields in Arequipa, Barranca, Olmos and Sullana. We also have packing facilities in Barranca and Sullana," says the financial manager.

Four types of garlic
The Peruvian garlic sector still has a lot of potential for growth, according to Ricardo Solorzano. "We cultivate four types of garlic on 300 hectares: white Chinese garlic, purple Chinese garlic, napuri garlic and barranquino garlic, a native variety of Peru. In this country, it is possible to produce garlic from Tacna, in the southern tip, to Chimbote, some 1,600 km further north. Although it is difficult to compete with China, which has the cheapest costs and better automation and technology for processing, Peru has the advantage of offering a product that is a bit more intense and pungent. Compared to Argentina, where garlic is mainly produced in Mendoza and the cultivation cycle lasts nine months, Peru is able to harvest the product seven months after the planting," says Ricardo Solorzano. Sol de Olmos exports the garlic it produces in Arequipa, Barranca and Chimbote to the US, Mexican, Spanish and Polish markets.

As for red chilies, the production is carried out all year round. In the case of Sol de Olmos it is done on 250 hectares in Olmos, another 200 hectares in Arequipa, 50 hectares in Barranca and 70 hectares in Chimbote. "We export the product in a dehydrated form to the US, Mexico and Spain. Dried chili is the most profitable product for our company."

Peruvian lime is juicier
The limes, which are shipped to California, Miami and the Netherlands, compete mainly with the Mexican production, which has a lower juice content. In Peruvian limes, juice accounts for 38-42% of the weight, compared to the 25-28% of Mexican limes, according to the financial manager. "The Peruvian lime has a thinner peel and an acidity of 6, while the Mexican lime has a pH of 9. However, Mexican limes are darker, which is considered by consumers as a quality index, so they reach 30-40% higher selling prices than Peruvian limes. We are still managing to take market share away from Mexico, thanks also to the product's good capacity for travel. Although we also compete with Colombia and Brazil, we achieve very good results in foreign markets."

Harvest of red chilies.

The bananas from Sol de Olmos, which have Fairtrade and organic certifications, are shipped to South Korea, the Netherlands and the U.S., while the avocados are exported to China, Europe, the US and Chile. "As exporters, we adapt firstly to the Peruvian sanitary standards, and then to the sanitary standards of the various markets to which we ship our products. Because of this reason, it is harder to enter Europe than the US market, although the incidence of pests and fungi is not high here due to it being a desert area. In the case of citrus, we are being asked by the National Agrarian Health Service of Peru (SENASA) to carry out monthly inspections of the limes, but in this area, the results have always been negative."

Expansion and modernization of packing warehouses
In 2022, Sol de Olmos shipped just under 12,000 tons of fruits and vegetables to international markets, and in 2023 exports exceeded 14,000 tons. For this year, the Peruvian company plans to increase its lime and garlic exports and keep the pepper ones stable.

Proud of the harvest.

"In 2024, we are launching our own packing warehouse Agropacking Fesol Perú, which has been designed by engineer Marco Eyzaguirre for the processing of limes, mandarins and avocados. With this, we intend to substantially increase our production capacity, so we will also be buying fruits and vegetables from third-party producers. We are also implementing the first peeled garlic packing warehouse with refrigerated storage, equipped with state-of-the-art processing and sorting machines and equipment," says Ricardo Solorzano.

"Although 2023 has been a very atypical year due to the El Niño phenomenon and our productions have decreased by 15%, there have been no worker layoffs," says the financial manager. "Social protection is the backbone of the business. We seek to earn the loyalty of our workers, 75% of whom are women. Moreover, at Sol de Olmos, we have implemented a Mini Market with prices at cost in the town of El Porvenir, with the aim of helping our workers save on their essential purchases," says Ricardo Solorzano.

For more information:
Ricardo Solorzano Cadillo
Agroexportadora Sol de Olmos
Av. Malecón de la Reserva 275, int 203
Miraflores, Lima. Peru
Tel.: +51 961-7736-638
[email protected]

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