Peru on course to triple fresh fruit and vegetable supply

Peru on course to triple fresh fruit and vegetable supply

Gill McShane

Sourcing Spotlight Peru logo

The UK is Peru’s third-largest fresh fruit and vegetable export destination and supply is continuing to rise as mega irrigation projects widen the South American country’s agricultural frontier and production matures across a range of sectors. Using data provided by Peru’s agrarian body Agap, Produce Business UK takes a look at the statistics behind the growth and highlights what UK buyers can expect over the next five years and more

View the full presentation from Agap here

By 2020 Peru plans to almost triple its fresh fruit and vegetable exports to 2.3 million tonnes and more than triple the value of its exports to US$3.8 billion (£2.5 billion), compared with 867,000 tonnes in 2012, worth some US$1.3bn (£846 million).

This is the forecast, as illustrated in the chart below, compiled by Agap (the association of Peru’s agrarian exporter guilds), which represents Peru’s seven major fresh produce organisations for citrus, avocados, table grapes, mangoes, asparagus, pomegranates and blueberries.

Chart 1 forecast

The anticipated growth comes on the back of huge irrigation projects in the Andean country and organic growth on the part of several evolving Peruvian fresh produce companies, Agap’s executive director Ana María Deustua tells Produce Business UK.

Category-wise, the major volume expansion is set to come from maturing export sectors such as table grapes – as indicated by PBUK in this article – and Hass avocados – as highlighted by PBUK in this article.

Chart 2 grapes

chart 3 avocados

But the development of a new generation of products with worldwide potential will also contribute to the growth, including mainstream fruits and other items that Peru is less well-known for producing.

Those include blueberries and pomegranates, plus passion fruit, granadilla, lúcuma, cherimoya, prickly pear (also known as cactus fig), golden berries (or physalis) and chillies.

chart 4 blueberries

chart 5 pomegranates

Peru’s overall fresh fruit and vegetable exports have already been rising rapidly every year over the course of the last decade and more.

Agap figures show that exports in 2014 reached some US$1.9 billion in value; a significant jump compared with 2003 when US$220 million-worth of produce was shipped from the South American nation.

Since its exporting origins in vegetables – largely asparagus – over the years Peru has become more specialised in supplying fresh fruit.

Today, fresh fruit represents the lion’s share of Peruvian produce sendings; accounting for US$1.4bn of the 2014 total (up from US$94m in 2003), while fresh vegetables were worth US$478m last year (vs US$127m in 2003).

In volume terms, fresh fruits and vegetable exports from Peru totalled 1.2m tonnes in 2014; having grown exponentially since 2003 when just 214,149t were shipped.

Of that total, fresh fruit accounted for 871,279t (99,244t in 2003), while fresh vegetables represented 339,179t (114,906t in 2003).

Chart 6 exports in value

Market-wise, in recent years Peru has developed a broad global reach thanks to the signing of a number of strategic Free Trade Agreements with some of the world’s biggest consuming nations.

Europe, North America and Asia absorb the majority of Peru’s produce volume today. In 2014, 45% of Peru’s fresh produce exports were shipped to Europe, 39% to the US, 11% to Asia and 3% to South America.

Chart 7 Peru exports to the world

UK is third-largest volume market and growing

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.

Chart 8 Peru produce exports to the UK

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.

Chart 9 evolution of Peru produce exports to the UK

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%). 

Chart 10 UK imports of Peru produce by category

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.”

Export calendar

View the full presentation from Agap here

Agap represents Peru’s seven produce exporters’ guilds:

ProCitrus – citrus
ProHass – avocados
ProVid – grapes
Apem – mangoes
IPEH – asparagus and vegetables
ProGranadas – pomegranates
ProArándanos – blueberries

Sourcing Spotlight Peru logo

Read other articles in PBUK’s Sourcing Spotlight on Peru: 

Martin Morales on why Peruvian cuisine means much more than just ceviche

Blueberry growers in Peru respond to UK retail requirements

The irrigation projects transforming Peru’s produce prospects

Peru offers the UK a paradise of opportunities to discover

Peru’s produce players take serious CSR strides but more support is needed

Peru presents significant opportunities for discount chains 

Wider demand and greater availability add up to strong growth for Peru avocados 

Peru set to dominate early seedless grape window with extensive offer 

Growers building buyer loyalty and status for Peruvian citrus 

Market opportunities for Peru stretch across the purchasing spectrum

Watch these videos about Peru:

Peruvian fresh produce
Peruvian cuisine

Chart Peru’s export evolution:

Agap: Peru modern agriculture presentation 



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