Sourcing Trip to Peru

Understanding "Produce Windows"

by Keith Agoada

The first week in December I was fortunate enough to visit Lima, Peru on a trip sponsored by the Peruvian government to meet with leading agricultural growers. My trip was focused on avocado, citrus, berries, grapes, asparagus, mango and bananas. I was very impressed with the professionalism and organization of the Peruvian governments export department along with the growers/exporters in Peru.

The export industry has certainly matured in Peru and it is experiencing a boom in production and sales. It is easy to understand why Peru has developed a strong global reputation as a supplier of high quality agricultural products - especially in the United States and Europe.

Peru is below the equator and thus has a great advantage in terms of fulfilling supply "windows." In the fresh produce industry, the concept of a "window" is extremely important. Nowadays consumers in the United States, Canada and Europe are quite privileged! Eating "seasonally" doesn't really exist. Supermarket customers expect to find fruits all year round. For shoppers in the United States this means buying products grown outside of the harvest season in the United States or even neighboring Mexico. This strong trend has given rise to the growing and exporting of agricultural products from the southern hemisphere to compliment the northern hemisphere growing seasons.

In the United States citrus, for example, is sourced from local farms in California and Mexico during much of the late fall, winter, and early spring. Thus, in this 'window' the demand for citrus grown outside of California and Mexico is minimal, especially in the Western United States, where distributors, retailers, and consumers prefer a local product and the perceived high quality from these growing regions.

However, certain varieties of citrus, like tangerines, aren't harvested in significant volumes from North America during the summer months. This presents an opportunity for growers south of the equator that have the opposite growing seasons to export their products to the United States. This is where the opportunity for countries like Peru become interesting.

Agricultural crops such as citrus, avocados, pomegranates, blueberries, mangoes, and grapes have seasonal windows that compliment the growing seasons in the United States and Mexico. As such, entrepreneurs in Peru now export thousands of containers a year of product to North America to satisfy this off-season demands. It's become big business, and part of the standard expectation of shoppers in the United States.

Visit to the Lima Wholesale Fruit Market

by Keith Agoada

One of my favorite activities whenever I visit a new city in Latin America (or anywhere in the world near the equator) is to visit the wholesale fruit market.

Visiting a wholesale fruit market in Latin America is always an adventure. These markets tend to be complete chaos with a mix of random pickup trucks and other vehi