Importers find opportunities in Guatemala - The Packer

Importers find opportunities in Guatemala

03/27/2009 12:00:00 AM
Jose Escobedo


Workers separate snow peas in a packing shed for Guatemala City-based Agroaltos S.A., one of Guatemala's largest exporters of snow peas, sugar snap peas and French beans. Last year, the company produced 7 million pounds of snow peas, and exported 5 million pounds of snow peas and 3 million pounds of sugar snaps to the U.S.

Jose Escobedo


(March 27, 1:48 p.m.) ANTIGUA, Guatemala — U.S. produce buyers found ample opportunities at this year’s Agritrade, Guatemala’s biennial produce summit.

The conference and expo, sponsored by Agexport, the Guatemalan Exporter’s Association, Guatemala City, was March 19-20.

Roberto Rosenberg, trade commissioner for the Guatemala Trade & Investment Office, New York, said more exhibitors and more products catering to U.S. markets were at the show.

“For the first time we are offering bell peppers, tomatoes, and blueberries. In 2006, these products were not admissible to the U.S.,” Rosenberg said. “We had wholesale buyers from New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Canada attend the event.”

Rosenberg said Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Cos. Inc. buyers who attended the show were interested in importing mangoes, blueberries and pineapples.

Mariella Marrero, general manager for the Miami office of Washington, D.C.-based Sun Belle Inc., came to Agritrade to import snow peas, sugar snaps and baby vegetables.

“I have been able to find what I’m looking for, and everyone has been very accommodating, particularly the people from the Guatemalan Trade Office in New York,” Marrero said. “They have been very helpful in setting up meetings.”

Guatemalan growers and exporters said they had success showcasing their products. Olaf Rasch, director of Guatemala City-based Frutico, said every half hour he had appointments with potential U.S. clients.

“I have met with approximately 20 U.S. buyers and four from Europe,” Rasch said. “Our tropical products are hot right now, and mango consumption in the U.S. is increasing tremendously, as well as papaya and pineapples.”

William Watson, executive director of the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., came to Guatemala to help the country’s mango industry understand what the board is doing on its behalf.

“We had an outreach meeting with mango exporters, researchers and allied industry members,” Watson said. “I’ve talked to a lot of retailers and buyers that are looking for the product.”


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