“Its rich soils, ideal tropical climate and its various thermal floors provided by the mountains make it possible for Colombia to produce exotic fruits such as Cape gooseberry or purple passion fruit all year round, allowing the country to continue gaining ground in the international markets.
Alejandro Angel, Managing Director of the Colombian producer and marketer Caribbean Exotics, founded in Medellin in the late 1980’s, mentioned how the consumption of exotic fruits has continued to increase since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world and how, despite climatic complications and the current inflation, they have managed to maintain their volumes and increase their sales in different markets.
“In the first half of 2022, we have shipped more than 1,259 tons of exotic fruits and more than 126 containers to different parts of the world. One of the lessons learned from the pandemic was the greater awareness about self-care and wellness. In Europe, perhaps more than in any other continent, we have learned how fundamental it is to have a conscious and healthy diet, and how people’s eating habits have been changing at a global level, resulting in an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables backed by promotional campaigns,” says Alejandro Angel.
Caribbean Exotics exports a wide range of exotic fruits to more than 16 countries. In addition to Cape gooseberry and purple passion fruit, it also ships products such as granadilla, feijoa, maracuja, tamarillo, baby banana, baby mango or pitahaya, among others (the first 4 with GlobalGAP certification), with year round supply and a Smeta social certification.
The main market for the exotic fruits of Caribbean Exotics is currently Europe, followed by the United States and Canada. “In the United States we only have phytosanitary permission to export Cape gooseberries, but we see great opportunities to grow in this market, since it is a product categorized as part of the berry segment, which has earned it greater visibility and recognition. Both the North American and Canadian markets offer great potential, given the size of the market for Cape gooseberries. These countries are already familiar with the fruit and appreciate it, and our geographic position allows us to deliver the shipments there quickly,” says Alejandro Angel.
“The Arabian Peninsula has surprised us with the growth in the demand for fruits such as baby mango and mangosteen. In the first quarter of this year alone, sales have doubled compared to the same period last year,” he said.
The main producers of Cape gooseberry in the world are Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Israel and Turkey; and the main producers of purple passion fruit are Colombia, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Vietnam. “What differentiates us from other competing countries is our capacity to produce 365 days a year thanks to our various thermal floors, an unparalleled quality that brings high added value,” says Alejandro Angel.
According to the company’s director, “this year has certainly brought great challenges due to inflation and high logistics and production costs. Although all sectors in the whole world are affected, we have seen increases every month that could eventually not be transferred to the market, since market prices must remain competitive. This situation has forced us to re-evaluate our processes, seeking greater efficiency and optimization.”
The company currently has a team of more than 300 people at its plants in Rionegro and Mosquera and at its La Bendición farm, located in Antioquia. “Our operations model relies on us having our own production, as well as on the support of producer associations, with which we work hand in hand in order to grow and harvest quality fruit and negotiate fair prices. This allows them to boost community and commercial development by their own means, as established in the Fairtrade standard, under which we are certified.”
“Our Fairtrade program has an impact on more than 1,800 families in 5 municipalities in Antioquia which are devoted to Cape gooseberry and purple passion fruit production. This project continues to grow thanks to the commitment and social awareness. This program’s revenues have increased by more than 500% since 2013, and these resources have been invested in the communities. The program is helping us, as a company, in ensuring equity in international trade, promoting good practices, respect for local producers, and transparency with the consumer. There is a clear commitment to the development of the producing communities.”
*This article has been excerpted from the freshplaza.com website, published on Wednesday 14 September 2022