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Chile and Peru taking lead for exports to U.S.

According to a 2011 report from the Produce Marketing Association, 4 percent of U.S. fruit imports each year come from Peru.

In the report, which was written about in on Sept. 29, 2011, Nancy Tucker, PMA’s vice president of global business development, stated that mangos, grapes, bananas, avocados, asparagus and artichokes are the most popular Peruvian produce items purchased by U.S. consumers.

She added that the U.S. market offers many opportunities for Peruvian fruit and vegetable exporters, as two-thirds of the vegetables consumed in the United States come from Mexico and 100 percent of bananas are imported.

“Peru has the opportunity to sell more berries; that includes blueberries, strawberries and blackberries, which have seen an increase in sales in the United States, because they are healthy products,” Ms. Tucker said, adding that American consumers take three things into account when making their fruit and vegetable purchases: taste, price and health.

Although the U.S. economic slowdown has affected the rate of imports, Ms. Tucker argued that in some cases, there has been an increase in purchase volume and prices. She also mentioned that the American consumer is demanding a greater amount of organic products, and that was something that could be exploited by producers and exporters in Peru.

“In the U.S., supermarkets are giving priority to the care of fruits and vegetables and 6 percent of the products offered are organic,” she was quoted as saying to during the Expoalimentaria fair in Lima, Peru.

According to the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, fresh fruit is the largest food exporting industry, accounting for 31 of total exports. Chile’s main export market in 2009-10 was the United States and Canada, which combined represented 39 percent of the country’s exports — 11 percent higher than the next highest market, which is Europe at 28 percent.

Table grapes, plums and apples are among Chile’s largest fruit exports, although it also produces other stone fruits, kiwi, blueberries, cherries and citrus.

Tom Tjerandsen of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association said that the organization’s mantra is “Sell the Colors of Summer All Winter Long!” It uses the quote in its point-of-sale and promotional materials.

The association also helps retailers with merchandising and handling, and with Chilean fruit imports at record highs, smart retailers will take notice.

The CFFA suggests that retailers set the stage with point-of-sale materials. The Point of Purchase Institute confirms that a 22 percent increase in sales occurs when promotional materials are used. The CFFA offers a full array of powerful materials, free for the asking.

The organization also believes that consumers trust Chilean fresh fruit — because they feel more comfortable selecting from a source they know and trust. Retailers are therefore advised to use prominent displays that show that Chile is the country of origin.

Chilean fruit also promotes good health, according to the CFFA, which encourages retailers to remind shoppers of the benefits of fresh fruit to maintain health and help fight off cancer and heart disease. Chilean fruits are fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free and high in vitamins.

“Don’t be caught short — anticipate demand,” said Mr. Tjerandsen. “Since 71 percent of shopping occurs on Friday and Saturday, make sure displays are well stocked and maintained during these heavy shopping days.”

Mixing colors — reds with yellows, purples and oranges — conveys a sense of freshness and appetite appeal that pays off in impulse sales, he added.

The CFFA goes a big step further to help retailers. It issues a weekly retail ads report.

“Each week we receive Best Food Day retail reports from the top 150 retail chains in the country,” said Mr. Tjerandsen. “We go through them item by item to record the promotion price, how they are described, if the ad includes reference to Chile, uses the logo and more. The information is compiled weekly and sent to those on our ‘In the Loop’ mailing list.”

CFFA launched a new website as well as a website dedicated to the media, making it even easier now to tout the great items coming from Chile.