Peru: the evolution of a super brand
Fruitnet talks with Luis Bernardo Muñoz, PromPeru's commercial economic advisor in New York, about the meteoric growth of Peruvian fruit and vegetable exports to the United States under the iconic national brand.
The Covid crisis has exposed the strengths and limitations of the fresh produce supply chain over the past 18 months. What factors do you think will influence the market and demand for fruit and vegetables?
Luis Bernardo Munoz: This has been a very complicated and difficult year due to the way in which producers and the entire supply chain have had to adapt to the pandemic and the many sanitary, logistical, administrative and financial limitations that it has brought. However, it has shown its strength and resilience and we hope that the mistakes made last year have been corrected and that the increase in production and exports can be sustained.
Being able to develop disruptive and agile marketing solutions has been a decisive factor, which is why the Expoalimentaria fair, which took place practically this year at the beginning of October, helped many importers and exporters to negotiate work solutions to existing problems.
The main factors that will affect the current season are undoubtedly the logistical difficulties we face and the fluctuation of the exchange rate. Much will also depend on the speed and efficiency with which the Peruvian government deploys its vaccination program, particularly for people in the main producing regions.
He mentions the logistical challenges faced by the exporter, one of which is the severe shortage of containers. Given that Peru depends one hundred percent on maritime cargo to reach its markets, to what extent do you think it will affect exports in the coming months and what measures can be taken to mitigate these problems?
LBM: The logistics problem is global and all markets are affected, but we are confident that the bottlenecks that are currently affecting the entire international supply chain can be solved. The virtual meetings held during the Expoalimentaria 2021 fair have led to the closure of supply programs. This has helped provide a projection of volumes and containers, which is vital when sitting down to negotiate with shipping companies.
In the coming months there will undoubtedly be tough times and capacity reductions, but since we are talking about reefer containers and these have a higher value, they will be prioritized in the shipments that are available.
Tell us how the exports of Peruvian products to the United States have evolved in the last five years.
LBM: We have seen steady growth in the market; grapes have posted double-digit growth, mango shipments are up 25%, while mandarins, ginger and asparagus also continue to make steady gains. But blueberries are undoubtedly the flagship product, as exports have doubled in just the last three years despite difficulties with the US government.
Once again, I want to highlight the work that has been carried out between Peruvian and American businessmen to be able to seek joint solutions and join forces in the improvement of commercial relations.
Of note is the impact that blueberry success has had in terms of paving the way for midsize companies to enter the US market. That is why meetings during international fairs such as Expoalimentaria are essential to increase the presence of more international businesses.
The Superfoods of Peru brand has been crucial for Peru's expansion in markets such as the United States, hasn't it?
LBM: Has invested a lot of time and effort in developing this umbrella brand, which we call our national brand. It is one of the most internationally recognized brands, despite having been launched just ten years ago.
To advance its development, we are now focusing more on sector brands such as Superfood, Alpaca del Peru, Pisco Spirit of Peru, etc.
Today, as a consequence of the pandemic, people are much more aware of healthy products with high nutritional value. The Superalimentos del Peru brand has allowed us to differentiate our offer and is increasingly known among importers and consumers.
In just a few years, Peru has gone from being the new kid on the block to an established supplier of fruits and vegetables to global markets. What should Peruvian companies do to avoid the commodification of their products, especially in categories such as blueberries, citrus and avocados?
LBM: Apart from their quality and value, one of the key differentiating factors of Peruvian products is the social, environmental and economic impact they have on the local population. Peru has been very successful in highlighting the heritage of its fruits and vegetables and promoting its national cuisine. We work hand in hand with Peruvian chefs from around the world, promoting their restaurants and making our gastronomy known. This will undoubtedly be one of the main factors that will help us continue to position our products in global markets.
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