“(Peru) has been very promising, or else we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “We’re not only looking at our side (as a buyer), but we’re looking at the consumer side. I think they’re going to have a lot of good, quality grapes.”
Asparagus has been the flagship item from Peru in the past — Mexico exported more asparagus to the U.S. than Peru last season, but Peru exported more than twice the U.S. production — but avocados were in the spotlight at numerous Expoalimentaria booths. The U.S. allowed Peruvian avocados in early 2010, but imports were light until summer 2011 as exporters dealt with U.S. mandated phytosanitary protocols.
“We’re looking for customers,” said Piet-Hein Briet, in sales and marketing for Sociedad Agraria Estanislao del Chimu. “This show is very successful. I went to Hong Kong for Asia Fruit Logistica (Sept. 4-6), but just having a small stand here, it’s been more successful, with more contacts.”
His company is in its second year of exporting grapes to the U.S. (shipments began the week of Sept. 24) and will ship its first avocados when the export season starts in March.
Moises Huerta, commercial specialist with the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C., said his agency invited U.S. importers to the expo, including Unifrutti’s Economou.
“This is the biggest food show in Latin America,” Huerta said. “Peruvian exports have grown as a whole and the U.S. is certainly a very important market."
U.S. buyers included Criss Ramirez, sourcing manager for San Antonio-based retailer H-E-B’s global sourcing department, who was scouting for “jarred” processed fruit and vegetable products. She, too, had a positive experience at the expo, making contacts with potential suppliers.