Importers find opportunities in Guatemala

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

Many who attended Agritrade attributed its success this year, at least in part, to the venue change from Guatemala City to Antigua. Also, more growers exhibited on the show floor.

“I’m really impressed with the event this year,” said Robert Colescott, president and chief executive officer of Southern Specialties, Pompano Beach, Fla. “I think Antigua is a great city.”

Colescott has been doing business in Guatemala for 20 years, and since the last Agritrade in 2006, the company has increased its imports from Guatemala by 15%.

Southern Specialties represents 35% of the market share of export volume to the North American market for snow peas, sugar snap peas, beans and baby vegetables, Colescott said. The company also imports Guatemalan mangoes and berries.

Nancy Tucker, vice president of global business development for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, met with Agritrade organizers to discuss Guatemalan exports to the U.S.

“They have very strong goals,” Tucker said. “They want to double their exports (from 2007’s total) by 2012. They are looking to improve their Agritrade brand, like MexBest.”

MexBest promotes foods from Mexico in the U.S. and Canada.

Tucker said PMA considers Central America to be one of the association’s next target regions.

“We would be looking to continue our growth here as an important partner for the U.S. trade,” Tucker said.

Marcia Mendez, logistics coordinator for Agritrade, said this year’s expo focused more on grower-shippers and less on the overall service industry.

“This year 70% of our exhibitors were produce growers and we had 124 booths,” Mendez said. “As a result, this was the first time we closed so many business deals in one session.”

Agritrade’s directors are planning to add more produce varieties.

“For Agritrade 2011, we want to add newer products to our exhibition floor, like fresh okra, asparagus and oriental vegetables,” said Estuardo Castro, president of Agritrade.

“We want to offer our clients a bigger diversity of products with better quality and much more quantity,” he said.

Agexport paid for The Packer’s visit to Agritrade.


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