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Costa Rica: A study highlights 8 crops with export potentialWednesday, June 21, 2017 > 11:25:21
According to a study made by the Promoter Of Foreign Trade (Procomer), Costa Rica can have a strong production of mangosteen, pitahaya, soursop, passion fruit, cape gooseberries, ipecacuana, pejibaye, and starfruit to sell in external markets.
The analysis establishes that these products have good sales options in the international markets due to their nutritional and medicinal properties, thanks to the growing tendency to eat healthy and natural foods among consumers.
Karina Lopez Porras, coordinator of Market Research at Procomer, stated that the research had also been performed because Costa Rica's fresh produce exports were heavily concentrated in bananas, pineapple, melon, and some tubers.
In addition, Procomer is giving the agricultural sector the importance it has in national exports, added official.
Alberto Montero, the manager of the Tropical Fruit Program of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), said Costa Rica must first increase the production volumes of these goods and subsequently develop programs to industrialize them with a view to export.
Montero said that they would compete against some countries, including Latin American countries, that already have presence with these goods in several markets.
Lopez said that one of the findings of the report was based on that. If some countries successfully export these goods, why can't Costa Rica?
To be successful, however, trends must be taken into account; for example, consumers are increasingly concerned about food safety and are looking for products that meet quality and social responsibility certifications, the report states.
In addition, they prefer traditional channels (fruit shops, small merchants), and modern channels like delivery at home, 24 hour vending machines, and electronic websites to supply themselves.
Among the conclusions, it is particularly important that the export of these incipient products be carried out with some degree of industrialization, such as pulps, concentrated juices, frozen pieces, and others. Thus, they would be exported with an added value to some industries that use them as raw material, avoiding the numerous phytosanitary requirements established for fresh products in some markets.
Diversification with promising new products is necessary, given that 45% of the fresh products sales corresponds to bananas and 40% to pineapple exports. They are followed by melon, with 4% of the total, and cassava with 3%. The country needs to diversify product sales due to this concentration, said Lopez.
In addition, 93% of current exports of fresh products are concentrated in North America and the European Union, while incipient non-traditional goods are sent to the Middle East, Southeast Asia and to countries near Costa Rica.
Lopez said that other tropical products also had potential, as researchers had identified 192 sectors at the beginning of the study. After performing several filters researchers focused on eight products, but it is possible that they will focus on other products in a second stage of the research.
Other options include noni, some types of ayote (not just traditional), colored carrots, radishes, and nances.
These products are also attractive to the market because of their nutritional and medicinal properties, and because nontraditional tropical products are attractive in some market segments, according to Procomer.
Cape gooseberries and pitahaya producers have already approached Procomer, which is offering them training to industrialize their production and to export, while pejibaye producers are in the process of establishing a consortium and improving their lines of industrialization, Lopez said.
According to Montero, some products such as cape gooseberries, starfruit, and passion fruit require a lot of work to guarantee they succeed, but others, such as soursop, have a very high potential in the foreign market.
He said that the soursop was attributed anticancer properties, which has boosted consumption of this fruit in the international market, where it must be placed as a pulp, given the fragility of its fresh presentation.