Within Europe, the UK is the biggest market by far. Last year, total exports to this country rose by 14% in volume terms to just over 82,000t, compared with 71,900t in 2013, and up from 14,413t in 2003 and as little as 3,900t back in 2000.
The UK has represented a “fantastic destination” for Peruvian fresh fruits and vegetables for a number of years, according to Agap’s Deustua, with the trade having initially developed for asparagus and grapes.
During the last five years, Deustua says Peru’s produce supplies to the UK have increased significantly – growing more than fourfold for fresh fruit and more than doubling for fresh asparagus.
Today, the UK receives from Peru primarily citrus (27,325t in 2014, up 5% against 2013), table grapes (15,150t, +42%), mangoes (11,445t, -4%), avocados (10,399t, +67%), bananas (2,605t, -25%), blueberries (274t, +60%) and other fruits including pomegranates and exotics like cherimoya (1,066t, +89%).
In the vegetable category, the UK absorbs primarily asparagus (9,659t in 2014, up 2% on 2013), pumpkin and courgette (2,146t, +70%) and fresh peas (1,840t, -7%).
Despite its relatively small size, the UK is currently the third-largest volume destination, after the expansive US market and the Netherlands, which serves as a re-distribution hub for several markets across Europe.
“The UK has been a star market for Peru,” says Deustua, adding that the UK market is almost double the size of Peru’s second largest European destination – Spain.
“The market has grown in value by 11% in 2014 and 38% in the first six months of 2015, which is very notable. Volume has risen for table grapes and avocados in particular. Asparagus continues to grow too, and we are developing other lines like mangoes and new lines such as blueberries.”
And the supplies keep on coming – in the first six months of 2015, the UK absorbed 44,221t of fresh produce from Peru, an uplift of 17% compared with the 37,912t received during the year-earlier period.
“Grapes are up 95% in volume and avocados by 70%, which is incredible and a reflection of more and more UK consumers discovering avocados,” Deustua explains. “Blueberries have also risen from 13t in the first semester of 2014 to 222t in 2015.”
UK expansion set to continue
Deustua says Agap expects Peru’s produce trade with the UK to maintain its upward trajectory. “This year prices have been better,” she points out. “We’re very keen to continue growing and working with the UK, so we are following the market’s trends in terms of how the UK is merchandising and packaging produce, etc.
“Grapes are very interesting and volume will increase to the UK with the new seedless varieties, which we believe will be very successful. Asparagus and citrus have been stable. And we are always trying to develop new lines.
“We’re a country blessed with many climates. We have exotics like granadilla, cherimoya and pomegranates, which could be very good for the UK. The UK loves starfruit and golden berries and Peru has those too. Smaller lines like squash and courgette are developing as well.”
At the same time, Deustua points out that Peru is being careful to develop the UK market’s knowledge of Peru as a supplier. That work is being carried out in earnest by the Peru Trade & Investment Office in the UK, which forms part of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism and operates under the umbrella of the Peruvian Embassy in the UK.
“Our commercial office in London is already helping to communicate this message to UK buyers and retailers. This office is less than two years old but already more specialised companies and importers are aware of Peru and its offer. That awareness will only increase in time.”