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Vicente Trapani – hopes of US reopening to Argentinian lemons

Vicente Trapani produced 27,000 tons of lemon last season and is currently engaged in the transformation of mountain areas for fruit growing, thus expects around 38,000 tons this year, according to general manager Esteban Lazzo.

The Vicente Trapani firm was founded in 1935, starting out as a citrus smallholding.

As of 1965, the company gradually became consolidated as an integral lemon farmer and today is an international benchmark.

This family business is one of the founders of the activity in Tucumán province. It has 1,500 ha of lemon groves in the area of Los Nogales, a packing plant with capacity for 18,000-20,000 pallets and a manufacturing facility able to process up to 1,000 tons of fruit.

“Last season we produced 27,000 tons of lemon. We are currently engaged in the transformation of mountain areas for fruit growing and recovery of the irrigation system, so we expect around 38,000 tons this year,” said general manager Esteban Lazzo.

Europe, with over 70% of shipments, is the main export market, followed by Russia and Poland, which along with Ukraine has a historical niche.

Lazzo said the firm is “brimming with expectation to see what happens with the United States, a market which in 2001 closed for Argentinian lemons. We think it might open up again this year.”

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Fama introduces Israeli varieties of mandarins

Fama has  7,000 ha of citrus farms in the provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes, with 50% oranges and 50% mandarins.

Thirty years after it was founded, Fama S.A. now occupies a significant place within the production and exportation of fresh citrus from Entre Ríos and Corrientes, Argentina.

The company has 20 owners from three generations of fruit producers whose mentality is aimed at producing quality fruit.

Today Fama has 7,000 ha of citrus farms in the provinces of Entre Rios and Corrientes, with 50% oranges and 50% mandarins.

For the latter, the company has been making contracts to have exclusive, patented varieties such as Orri, of Israeli origin.

Commercial director Alberto Lavino Zona explained: “This enables us to be always a little ahead of our competitors. Also, at times when there is too much fruit, by having what nobody else has it is easier to sell it.”

He went on to describe the company’s strategy, which is based on three prongs: “Innovation in varieties, where we are entering the field of red Israeli varieties, which are very valuable and take five years to develop; we are not thinking of increasing the area but improving technology to get greater production per hectare and a better yield, making the work more effective; and having varieties the market seeks, thus being more competitive.”

Although the most significant market is Russia, which accounts for 50% of the volume exported, it is currently present in 30 markets and the idea is to continue growing and opening up new ones.

“What has differentiated us from our competitors is that we have always been opening up markets according to the type of fruit we produce and trying to maximise the value of each variety and each calibre.”

Interested in opening up the US market, Lavino Zona underlined the need to have the backing of the Argentine government to bring down tariffs barriers. 

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Delta Berries: diversification and integration for growth

The blueberry grower Delta Berries is a packer and exporter located in the Concordia region, which supplies 50% of Argentina’s total blueberry volume,.

This blueberry grower, packer and exporter is located in the Concordia region, which supplies 50% of Argentina’s total blueberry volume, in the province of Entre Ríos. The company was set up 10 years ago and three years ago began to export directly, showing constant growth.

Today it has a foothold in the USA, Europe and almost every Asian market. Director Victor Trigo explains. “We’re trying to make inroads with alternative products such as frozen or dried blueberries. As blueberry production in Argentina only covers 2½ months of harvest, we’ve been obliged to look for complementary products, such as pecan nut, which allows us to exercise constant insertion into markets and explore investment diversification with new products.”

With 10 ha of its own and 14 leased, the company produces varieties which can be classed as new, like Sunny Ridge and Primadonna, along with other second-generation items, such as Emmerald. In Concordia, the sector has managed to rejuvenate itself based on the conversion of varieties, with very satisfactory acceptance, which gave other farmers the confidence to try out these varieties, mainly Snow Chaser.

“As we are a small business, we are driven by the need to make a space for ourselves among the big fish and this obliges us to keep a close eye on alternatives, being highly efficient with our costs and able to apply a policy of integration with other producers in order to survive. This is generating very interesting growth for us in annual terms, around 50%, and we intend to continue growing to achieve our infrastructure’s full potential, with an 800-ton fumigation and cold storage capacity and 400 tons in packing.”

 

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Lemons’ good qualities: the Argentine promotional strategy

The lemon has many little-known benefits so marketing is a must for boosting consumption.

One should start to talk of lemons with their qualities as a condiment, beginning to position them as a healthy kind of fruit that even has therapeutic properties.

In this vein, Lemos Producer Association (ATC in Spanish) manager Roberto Sanchez Loria emphasised that “if we are going to do this, then we cannot afford not to be certified. Being certified means we are offering something that we can say is intrinsically good, but which we treat with the same good level it deserves.”

The next matter at a global level in this regard will be that the fruit being sold should have very low toxic residue levels. “In future, we will have to find a balance between the aesthetic quality and healthiness, which is linked to toxic residues. This implies that we will be able to see a kind of fruit that is not as pretty to look at, but will certainly not have any chemicals, aiming for naturalness,” he said.

IDEP Tucumán supports the opening of new markets

Tucumán’s production forecasts augur well for a promising future but one that demands new strategies and new markets.

The state and the private sector are thus working together to seek new trade opportunities for lemons. In 2015, Tucumán began work towards signing plant health protocols with China. IDEP (Institute for the Productive Development of Tucumán) executive director Dirk Trotteyn said a committee of business people and civil servants was formed, which travelled to Beijing and met with their counterparts there to progress on the matter. “This is a long process we are working on in in a detailed and dedicated way,” he said. 

Within the Asian market, meetings have begun with Japan, too, in order to improve conditions so Argentinean lemons can withstand the long journey there. 

Moves are also being made in the US. “We want to reintroduce our lemons in that market,” Trotteyn said. A few months ago, the President of IDEP and the Minister of Production Development, Juan Luis Fernández, accompanied a delegation of producers from Tucumán in a meeting in Washington in order to advance those talks.

This article was first published in edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine on page 88. Read more citrus and other fresh produce news from that issue at: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/145-2016-sepoct

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News from Argentina’s citrus leaders

Citrus_fruits

Citromax increases its export potential

Since it began producing lemons industrially in the 60s and fresh lemons in the 90s, Citromax has established itself as one of the most important firms in the sector. However, since 2013 the company and the province of Tucumán have been affected by the vagaries of the weather. Bernabe Padilla, their Commercial Head, explained that for this season “the idea was to get results like last year’s, but increasing exports by 50-60% more. In reality, although the results are going to be good, the volumes will not be as high as hoped. Citromax calculates it will end the season with 14,000 tons.” This will be the third year with exports below normal, losing ground in the fresh sector mainly due to the age of the orchards and the importance of industry, which now accounts for 80% of the business. “We are trying to see how to reverse this. We want to position Citromax again among the top 4-5 fresh exporters, with a floor of 20,000 tons for export, mainly with the quality that our produce had in order to position itself on the world market. We have to get ready for normal years again where, faced with a growing supply, the main competitive advantage will be differentiation through quality.” The lines of action that are being taken involve renovation of the plants and new production technology. As for the markets, Russia, Asia and Canada have again been participating, recovering the ground they had lost.

Latin Lemon: greater presence on international markets

Since it was founded in 2008, Latin Lemon’s sales, production and packaging policy has been based on quality. Guillermo Lamarca, Commercial Manager, stressed that “continuing as in recent years, we have been creating sustained growth in export volumes, not only to Europe, but also seeking to develop new markets, too, while always aiming for quality by meeting the All Lemon standards and faithfully following its policies.” Although the beginning of the campaign was affected by rain, it started as planned and is expected to continue normally as expected until the beginning of August. The amount of days it has rained, while not affecting the quality of the fruit, did affect the pathways around the fields and thus time was lost getting in the fields to harvest. This meant 35% less than what was estimated for this year, but more than was exported last season. Although there is a strong commitment to Europe, Latin Lemon is also solid in Russia and Canada, and little by little it is increasing its presence in the Middle and Far East while getting ready for when the obstacles to the US market are overcome, which is expected to be in 2017. The main investments focus on completing the integration of the business with the industrial side, “which enables us to ensure the quality of the fruit, since we don’t need to put bad quality fruit in the boxes, because we have the industry in the company to which the discarded fruit may go,” stressed Lamarca.

FGF Trapani supplies lemons as of March

“FGF Trapani S.R.L. is synonymous with lemons, but also with the family,” enthuses Fabricio Trapani. For over 60 years, three generations have been dedicated to producing and selling fresh lemons and their derivatives, as well as other citrus on a smaller scale. That is how the company has become a supplier of lemons of excellent quality, and year on year it is growing on the national and international markets. Thanks to the extension to its industrial plant, in total it makes concentrate and processes 100,000 tons of lemons a year, which are earmarked for industrial processes, and between 20 and 25,000 tons are exported fresh. With the idea of buying less fruit from third parties and having more of their own fruit, they are now investing in new fields to cultivate in northern Argentina, with the most advanced cultivation and watering technology. In total, there will be 500 ha in the province of Jujuy and another 200 ha in Salta, which will provide the possibility of having fruit as of March. The current campaign began with some difficulties due to intense rainfall, which has delayed shipments. The lack of fruit on the market has been compensated by good prices, which have hit a new record this year that is expected to be maintained throughout the season. Enthusiastic about the possibility of the United States’ market opening up, he underlines that it is a good market where a greater percentage of fruit may be exported.

Veracruz doubles its production capacity

With expectations of increasing exports by 30%, Veracruz will end the season with 12,000 tons, the same as in the last campaign. Carolina Seleme, the Commercial Manager, explains that “an unusual phenomenon appeared: due to so many days with low temperatures, a lot of fruit attained a commercial colour before expected. That’s good because we have more fruit available than we thought, but it’s also bad because the harvest capacity for preselection and packaging is limited, so we are not going to be able to get all the fruit that is already ready onto the market.” As a result, the harvest is about 70% complete, when in a normal year around this time it would be at 49%. Veracruz is always trying to open up new markets. It is the only Argentinean company that exports to the Philippines and Indonesia, where 75% of the purchasers are to be found. “The US looks interesting to us and we hope to develop it. Our land is already registered and we are already taking the steps demanded by this market; not because the US requires it, but because we believe it is better in order to have good quality fruit,” specifies Seleme. Finally, Veracruz doubled its production capacity and bought the necessary machines to have completely automated packaging up and running for the upcoming campaign. They also have a new nursery with more than 20,000 plants that will be grown on 100 new hectares. “We certify the plants from when they are seedlings until delivery to the client. This is what the customers want: the producer grows their tree and guarantees the quality as of the seed,” she stressed.

San Miguel grows in South Africa with an eye on the East

With a total of 7,760 ha grown in three countries (Argentina, Uruguay and South Africa), which produced a total of 91,058 tons of citrus for export in 2015, San Miguel is concentrating on exploring new markets, broadening the supply of fruit where it is already present, and reaffirming the bases of its identity as a company, strengthening its policies on quality and sustainability. “We wish to establish ourselves as a leading company in fresh citrus fruit and processed vegetable and fruit in the Southern Hemisphere. We understand that long-lasting success has to be reached and maintained via sustainable development,” states Alejandro Moralejo, Commercial Director at Fruta Fresca. While Europe accounts for half of their customers, and Russia borders on 15 %, it is making headway in North American markets and already devotes nearly 20 % of its produce to customers in the Middle and Far East. The most important fruit is the lemon, with 52% of its production, but it is continuing to grow with oranges (41%) and mandarins (6%). This year, San Miguel’s supply will even out. The rate of growth they are experiencing with sweet citrus is a little greater than with lemons. Historically, the company had four or five times more lemons than oranges and mandarins, whereas they have currently managed to balance the ratio at 1:1. As for new markets, they are exploring the Far East and, with a view to broadening their supply to North America, they have acquired two new orchards in Western Cape, South Africa, which unlike other regions in the country have the corresponding plant health permits for export to the US. The main distribution channels are supermarkets, which account for 70% of their sales.

All Lemon boosts consumption with “Think Lemon”

“We are still working to do more as regards positioning Argentine lemons in the world, ensuring the quality demanded by the markets,” explains Walter Ojeda. With greater production levels than in 2015, the 2016 campaign began with excessive rainfall, which prevented export operations from working normally. All of these factors have created new challenges and rules of play to keep the high levels of quality for the most demanding markets, which means that All Lemon is working consistently amongst other things on a unifying, single language for quality with its member companies. All Lemon’s most recent initiative is the “Think Lemon” campaign, which began last year to promote the benefits of lemons, linking their quality and properties to a kind of lifestyle. This involved specific promotion, dissemination and awareness-raising activities for consumers about the advantages and uses of the fruit. This was a shared experience and has been well received by other producing countries such as South Africa, Turkey, Spain, Italy, the US, Uruguay and Chile, with whom a panel was set up to establish how progress could be made to continue exploiting the benefits of this noble fruit. In the context of this joint effort, the US proposed financing research by a prestigious North American university in order to study the benefits of lemons for our health. In other matters, this year three new companies have joined. Ojeda emphasised that “it’s an open group and the only condition we require is that they use the seal as is and in order to do so they have to be qualified by our audits by our professional, independent quality control team, following a specific procedure in order to be able to export.” Today, the 15 members that make up All Lemon represent 75% of total lemon exports from Argentina, and “we believe that the members are going to continue to rise in number and in individual production, so this percentage is going to keep growing. It would be spectacular if all the exporters/producers formed part of the quality seal,” enthused Ojeda.

Zamora Citrus gets ready for new markets

In addition to the work that Argentina is doing to open up new markets such as the US, Japan and China, according to Juan Zamora, the President of Zamora Citrus, there is also the growth of middle classes around the world, who have greater spending power, which means an increase in consumption. “We are preparing to face this new situation. We see growth in demand for lemons and an opening up that is going to appear over the next five years with new markets.” This is why Zamora Citrus has acquired 450 ha of more land to plant lemons, meaning an increase of 100%. Also in expectation of rising demand for healthier eating habits, in 2009 the company introduced a post-harvest treatment system that enables the use of chemical products and MRLs to be reduced in order to give consumers a more ecological, healthier product. Following this trend, “we are also developing land of 80 ha for organic produce,” which will make it one of the top Argentine companies in this sector in producing fresh organic lemons. As for the current campaign, February saw a recuperation in production, which led to forecasts of 20% more than last year. However, the intense rainfall led to 40 days of harvest being lost, which in turn led to delays in shipments and a loss in quality, as well as an increase in calibres. The situation points to the lemon campaign possibly ending before expected, with only a few more shipments exported than last year. They are currently harvesting 400 tons a day, of which 60% is earmarked for industry.

Image: by Scott Bauer, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42762

 

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Argentinean lemons seeking to conquer mega-markets

Tucumán has 40,000 ha of lemon crops. The environmental conditions make it possible to obtain fruit with very good characteristics of high industrial value, which with the right treatment provides a good, fresh asset. The business sector acted intelligently by investing heavily in capital, resulting in the development of an extremely important cluster.

The Tucumán Citrus Association, ATC, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The association includes all of the active agents in the sector, such as primary producers and fresh and industrial fruit packers. Furthermore, it has a peculiarity: it is the only institution that involves all of the business fabric linked to lemon production in the province of Tucumán. Its main aim is the ongoing, sustained defence of this activity. 

News in the sector

Roberto Sánchez Loria, the President of ATC (the Tucumán Citrus Association), explained that Tucumán went through a very complicated situation in 2013 as a result of harsh frost, which very much deteriorated the produce. This was noticeable in 2014, when lemons plummeted to half of the historical volume in the province.

Although the current campaign will not end with the expected volume of 300,000 tons, it will be better than previous campaigns. This is in spite of a delay in the harvest, due to rainfall at times of year when there are normally none.

Exports of fresh lemon in Argentina generated US$ 1.836 billion between 2007 and 2014, making it one of the five points of reference in world commerce and the most relevant one in the Southern Hemisphere.

However, Argentina’s model for international competitiveness took a step back between 2010 and 2013. The markets with the greatest competitiveness indices are Spain and Greece, while the most significant in terms of turnover are the Netherlands, Spain, Russia and Italy.

The ones that have seen a drop in market share of the business as an international supplier are those with sales to the Netherlands, Poland and France. On the other hand, the markets with a greater growth dynamic in the market share are Saudi Arabia, the UK, Belgium, Canada and Ukraine. 

The US, China and India: the next steps

The challenge posed by the sector after conquering the markets of Europe and gaining ever more access and fame in countries in the Middle East is that this didn’t happen in three of the world’s mega-markets: the US, China and India. This is why the sector has begun to work on reopening the US market, which today is in a very special situation because the proposal for bilateral regulation has just been published and is in the public period of consultation.

“We assume that once this stage has been overcome, which is critical because it is where the proposal is technically validated, we will be very close to reopening the US market.”

On the other hand, conversations with China are at a very advanced stage; there is great interest in this country in establishing trade in lemons. Just like Japan, China demands cold treatment to include citrus fruit in this country as a preventive measure against the fruit fly.

“What we object to fundamentally are the thermal levels: what temperature and how long we must send the fruit for. We are asking for these matters to be reviewed, which China has agreed to do, and we hope to see more significant advances in 2017.”

Lastly, relations have only been established with India to draw up a binding protocol. There is a good predisposition; it is a market that will have to be explored due to its complexity and amount of inhabitants. Sánchez Loria stressed that “we are prepared to take on any market, but that does not mean we’ll be able to satisfy all of their needs. We’ll probably partially cover their requirements, but we cannot afford to not be there.” 

 

 

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Argentina’s apple, pear, grape exports below historical levels

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Hail storms, blooming difficulties and an ongoing decline in planted area have seen USDA forecasts for Argentina’s production of apples this year revised down to 640,000 tons and that for fresh pears to 580,000 tons.

Exports are revised down to 105,000 tons for apples and revised up to 330,000 tons for pears.

“The severe economic and financial crisis which has been affecting the local fruit sector during the past few years has contributed to decreased planted area for both fruits,” says the USDA GAIN report Argentina: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Semi-annual.

It also says Argentina’s table grape production for the 2016 calendar year is projected to decrease drastically to 60,000 tons – a 40% decrease from official estimates – due to less competitiveness of local companies in export markets, and the conversion of table grape areas to raisin production.

The country’s table grape export forecast has been revised down to 11,000 tons.

“Exports of all three types of deciduous fruit are estimated to remain lower than historical levels as a result of lost competitiveness and stressed demand due to economic problems in major export markets, such as devaluation in Russia and Brazil.”

However, amid volatile export markets, the US remains a reliable market for Argentine apples and pears, the report says.

Souce: USDA GAIN report Argentina: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Semi-annual: Apples, Pears, and Table Grapes (5/31/2016)

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AgroFresh technologies improve fruit quality

Building on more than 15 years of experience in enhancing fruit freshness, quality and value, AgroFresh Solutions Inc. will soon offer its advanced technologies to countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Building on more than 15 years of experience in enhancing fruit freshness, quality and value, AgroFresh Solutions Inc. will soon offer its advanced technologies to countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

AgroFresh technologies use proprietary formulations to prevent ethylene recognition, slowing the natural ripening process and maximizing quality of apples, pears and other fruit varieties. The Harvista™ pre-harvest technology helps growers proactively manage fruit maturation to extend the harvest window and deliver the highest quality fruit.

Harvista controls fruit drop, keeping fruit on the tree longer to optimise color and yield. It also slows starch conversion and acid loss for optimal fruit firmness and flavour, and delays or minimises watercore.

The SmartFresh™ post-harvest technology controls the ripening process during storage, packing and shipping. It maintains just-picked quality and reduces storage disorders such as superficial scald, core flush and internal browning.

With a complete quality management program from AgroFresh — Harvista pre-harvest and SmartFresh post-harvest — producers can achieve the highest possible fruit value.

Harvista is now available to fruit growers in Argentina and SmartFresh is available in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. AgroFresh operates service and research facilities in Curicó, Chile; São Paulo, Brazil; and Vacaria, Brazil.

This article appeared on page 14 of issue 142 (March/April 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that edition online here.

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Agroberries leading Southern Hemisphere supply

Agroberries has more than 500ha of blueberries planted between Chile and Argentina.

Agroberries is consolidated as one of the Southern Hemisphere’s leading exporters, producing in Chile, Argentina, Mexico and the US.

In 2014 the company traded 25 million kilos of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, mainly to markets in the US (60%), the UK and continental Europe. Now, the company is in the midst of an expansion process.

“We plan to invest 12 million dollars in the next couple of years in Chile, Argentina, México and the US. We are also looking with great interest into Peru,” said general manager Juan Pablo Spoerer. The strategy involves duplicating the planted surfaces, introducing highly resistant varieties as well as technology and information system improvements.

Agroberries has more than 500ha of blueberries planted between Chile and Argentina. Exports this season from Chile alone are estimated at around 8,000 tons, representing 20% more than last year. “In Argentina we have exported 1,800 tons this season, showing growth of 80% – making the company Argentina’s number one blueberry exporter,” Spoerer said.

The company recently announced a strategic alliance with S&A Produce Ltd, a leading UK distributor. SAB Produce, the new company with shared ownership, will be in charge of marketing fruit coming from the Americas, Europe, Morocco and Egypt into the European market. Asia is another market with huge potential for growth.

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Argentina’s blueberry sector has its eyes on Asia

Although the US and the EU are the most valuable export destinations, the ABC (Argentinian Blueberry Committee) is currently working alongside national organisations to open up new Asian markets.

Prolonged rains and a cold spring, resulting from the El Niño current, led to a slow start to the 2015 season. In any case, the pace soon picked up again, closing the year with volumes only slightly lower than the previous campaign. Although original forecasts predicted roughly 18,000 tons, the campaign is likely to end up at around 14,600, reports Inés Peláez, general manager of the Argentine Blueberry Committee.

New horizons

Although the US and the EU are the most valuable export destinations, the ABC (Argentinian Blueberry Committee) is currently working alongside national organisations to open up new Asian markets. Among them is Japan, which closed in 2010. Since then, ongoing exchanges with the country have taken place in an attempt to move negotiations forward. China has also become a priority as a new strategic market.

One important breakthrough was the recent visit by the technical team from AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) from China. This was the first ever visit, made to carry out inspections in the producer provinces of Salta, Tucumán and Buenos Aires. This is the first stage of assessment of the fields, pests and plant health risks.

“All the signals are good and we think that we shall soon be able to open up this huge Asian market,” said Inés Pelaez from the Argentinian Blueberry Committee. The committee is currently working jointly with SENASA to draft the necessary reports, as a first step towards the future realisation of a protocol.

There will also be other exchanges between plant health agencies, in the hope that 2016 will be the year the Chinese market finally opens up to Argentine blueberries. “The volumes now being exported by our neighbours in Chile amount to scarcely 20% of Argentina’s output. This makes China an even more interesting market for us,” Peláez said.

Quality and good flavour

Despite the development of the sector in other Latin American countries such as Peru and the potential competition, Argentina has conditions that other countries lack and the biggest challenge is raising awareness and appreciation of the quality and good taste of Argentine blueberries. Thanks to this, as different production areas are producing and exporting, if any unforeseen climatic event occurs in Argentina, another area can cover the shortfall so that the market is not undersupplied. This is why supply from Argentina is very consistent, notwithstanding what might occur throughout the season. What customers value is the stable market, consolidated over the past 20 years, with consistency of supply and reliability of all the exporters and the country in general.