Chile: Los Ríos Organic Blueberry Growers Seek Business in Korea

The production of blueberries in the world has increased significantly in recent times as a result of the increase in their consumption on a global scale. The blueberry is associated with health and a healthy lifestyle for people, product of its nutraceutical characteristics. That is why, the consumption of blueberries increases rapidly in those countries whose market economies are emerging.

In this way, blueberries reach the same level of penetration as in the United States in Asian markets, such as China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Precisely in this last market was that through the Profo project "Organic blueberry exporter", supported by Corfo, through the Regional Productive Development Committee, a delegation from Los Ríos traveled in search of new businesses.

Korean market

Chile was the first Latin American country with which South Korea signed a free trade agreement, and that has meant that 11.720 Chilean products enter with zero tariff to that Asian market, which is equivalent to 96% of the total of the tariff lines, and 99,9% of Korean imports from Chile during the 2013 year.

It should be noted that, according to ProChile statistics, the 69% of the blueberries arriving in South Korea today are Chilean. "We have a tariff preference that favors us with respect to our direct competitor, which is the United States" notes Andrés Hoffmann, Manager of Profo.

Trip to Korea

Hoffmann, along with three of the five companies of Profo, traveled last May to Korea, this within the framework of the commercial tours that are part of the project, and that aim to install capabilities to export directly, prospect the market and expand the business

During the 6 days that the tour lasted the local businessmen held different working meetings with distributors and Korean companies, the most relevant being the visit to Seoul City Gas. "It has food investments, like a blueberry field in Chile; We negotiated with them to complete the commercial chain and we had a very good reception, since our offer was accepted, and already in the next season they will receive our organic fruit ", declares Hoffmann.

This group of entrepreneurs together 82 hectares, with an exportable volume of 500 tolerated fruit per season. "This year we will start with a kind of white gear, we intend to send some three or four tons by air, and thus start exporting to this destination. However, now our biggest challenge is not in reaching Korea, but in the homologation of Korean standards. The certification we have today is for the United States and Europe, but it is not necessarily validated for South Korea. "said Hoffmann.

Fair and visits to plantations 

Another important point on the tour was the visit to the Seoul Food 2016 Fair, one of the largest food fairs in the Asia-Pacific. In this space the local businessmen had the opportunity to see process machinery to give added value to their products; packaging and different materials; process lines; technology within the process lines; and make contact with distributors and buyers of fresh fruit.

They also visited Korean greenhouses and the Retail Lotte and I-mart stores.

Carlos Didier, entrepreneur belonging to Profo added: "We believe we have good space to introduce our blueberries, for price and quality. Our blueberries according to our studies have an 50% more antioxidants, due to climate conditions, soil and geographical situation. Those are the advantages that we want to highlight. Also, we have sweet varieties that are very popular in Korea ".




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