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DFT, high-quality Guatemalan mango

DFT (Distribuidora de Frutas Tropicales) is a Guatemalan company founded in 2000 that grows, packages and markets mangoes of the Tommy Atkins, Ataulfo, Kent and Keitt varieties. Luis Carlos Martínez, general manager, said, “We started exporting Tommy Atkins mango to the United States and we gradually managed to expand in the North American market on the east and west coast, and in Canada and Europe.” Recently, the company has begun exporting mango to Chile after years of discussions between the governments of Guatemala and Chile, and DFT was the pioneer in sending the first fruits. The firm has more than 400 hectares of mango production, “which allows us to control the entire crop cycle.” The harvest season in Guatemala begins in February and ends in June. As part of its growth plans, DFT built a frozen food processing plant in 2016, and began producing mango pulp and frozen mango pieces in IQF. “Although our strength has always been in the fresh product, in order to diversify and add value to our material, we decided to enter the world of frozen products. Our vision for our processed mango is to reach new markets and position ourselves as a leading company in the region and to sell mango all year round,” said Martínez. DFT has a USDA-certified packaging plant for hydrothermal treatment, as well as GlobalG.A.P., Primus GFSI, and HACCP certifications, and is currently undergoing BRC certification. The plant can process over 1.5 million 4kg box of mangoes per season, pack 6kg boxes in ‘ready to eat’ air mode, up to 2,000kg per week, and process 3.6 million kg of frozen mango.

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Lime prices in the US at twice normal levels

limes

Lime prices in the US are double where they were at the same time last year. This has led to the world’s main producing countries, Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia preferring to export to the US, often at the expense of Europe. Brazil has responded to this opportunity by increasing its shipments to Europe, leading to a fall in prices. Prices in the US are traditionally high at this time of year with Southern Hemisphere production coming to an end while Northern Hemisphere production has yet to hit its peak. Guatemala is particularly well positioned as its campaign gets underway just as prices in the US reach their maximum. The high prices in the US are reducing demand for lime. However, these prices will no doubt very soon attract supplies from other countries and result in a fall.

Another key market for limes is Germany, with most limes on the market there coming from Brazil and Mexico, although Egypt is starting to make inroads too. Thanks to a steady supply, the average wholesale price is normal for this time of year and stands between €0.20 and €0.23 per unit. With the rising temperatures across the company, demand for limes has increased considerably.

Elsewhere, South African lime producers are concentrating on the domestic market where they can obtain better prices. In Israel, producers are hoping for better growing conditions than those faced over the past three years. The heat waves have accelerated fruit ripening and led to smaller calibres, which are unsuitable for export.

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Agritrade makes Guatemala a magnet in March

The Agritrade Expo and Conference overall promotes agricultural improvement and diversification as well exports. With more than 100 international buyers, it is a business platform which facilitates access to markets and the generation of exportable supply.

Agritrade Expo and Conference, one of Central America’s top agricultural events, takes place in Guatemala March 23-24 this year under the slogan ‘Growing business together’.

With an exhibition area of more than 170 stands, Agritrade 2017 will once again bring together international buyers and exporters of fresh and processed products from the region, as well as companies supplying related goods and services.

The main agricultural sectors it covers include fruit and vegetables, coffee, sesame, cardamom, honey, cocoa, ornamental plants, flowers and processed agricultural products.

The Agritrade Expo and Conference overall promotes agricultural improvement and diversification as well exports. With more than 100 international buyers, it is a business platform which facilitates access to markets and the generation of exportable supply.

The conference programme includes lectures by national and international experts on pertinent topics.

As well as international buyers and importers, participants include growers, exporters, investors, government officials and members of relevant associations.

The location for this event will again be Santo Domingo del Cerro, Antigua Guatemala.

For more information: http://www.agritradecentralamerica.org/

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Bananas overtake coffee as export earner for Guatemala

Guatemala’s banana sector has increased its productivity and therefore its volumes, though prices continue to trend downwards due to a global surplus.

Guatemala – the world’s 10th biggest coffee producer – last year  earned more from its exports of bananas than from coffee.

Figures from the Bank of Guatemala show that last year, the country’s banana exports reached a value of US$ 759.4 million, $96.4 million higher than those of coffee.

According to a report in Prensa Libre, key factors in this were low prices on the global coffee market and the fact that coffee leaf rust, a fungus known as “roya,” reduced the country’s coffee production.

Meanwhile, the country’s banana sector increased its productivity and therefore its volumes, though prices continue to trend downwards due to a global surplus, Bernardo Roehrs, corporate director of banana producer and exporter Agroamérica, was quoted as saying.

Sugar still beats coffee in export value for Guatemala, but amid ongoing low prices for sugar, many sugar producers are switching to bananas, which means a further increase in Guatemala’s banana supply this year, which could make things difficult for the sector, Roehrs said.

FOB value of Guatemala’s general trade exports 1980 – 2015 in millions of US$

source: Banguat

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Guatemala’s snow pea: the peace crop

About three-quarters of Guatemalan production of snow peas, sugar snap peas and French beans is exported to the US, while 25% goes to Europe and 1% to Canada, Mexico and the rest of Central America.

Snow pea cultivation in Guatemala is known as “the peace crop”, since it came into being three decades ago to give an opportunity to rural communities affected by the armed conflict raging in the country. Specifically, it helps young people integrate into an economic activity for the development of their communities and is fast becoming one of the country’s largest nontraditional export products. Today, 30 years later, the crop is well-known for its quality and year-round availability, as well as the direct economic impact it has had on the livelihood of thousands of local people.

Highest quality standards 

About three-quarters of Guatemalan production of snow peas, sugar snap peas and French beans is exported to the US, while 25% goes to Europe and 1% to Canada, Mexico and the rest of Central America. These crops are produced under different certified standards, including Global GAP, Tesco Nature’s Choice, Primus GFS, HACCP, BRC and Fair Trade, among others. In addition, there is FUNDARVEJA, a social responsibility foundation, created to contribute to integral development of the families and areas related to snow pea, sugar snap pea and French bean cultivation. 

The Committee’s sustainability project

Guatemala’s snow pea, sugar snap pea and French bean industry has formed an Association in the US to provide a common platform for Guatemalan producers and exporters and North American importers to promote Guatemalan crops nationwide. At the same time, the industry maintains a presence at major events to promote vegetables from Guatemala, such as PMA in North America and Fruit Logistica in Europe. The Snow Pea and Vegetables Committee is composed of exporters and 45,000 families of small producers of snow peas, sugar snap peas, French beans and other vegetables, spread throughout more than 200 rural communities located in regions of the central and western highlands and north east and east of Guatemala, mainly with an estimated 7,000 ha of peas and 4,500 ha of French beans, generating employment and economic development for men and women in areas hit in the past by the armed conflict. 

This article appeared on page 72 in the News section of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

Snow pea image: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=138064

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Slight growth in US banana imports

Bananas

Guatemala remains top US banana source

US banana imports inched up just under 1% last year to nearly 4.9 million tons, with Guatemala remaining the top supplier.
Figures from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) also show that compared to 2013, the biggest growth was in imports from Peru, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, while the totals from Panama, Colombia and Honduras fell.

 

2012 tons

2013 tons

2014 tons

% 14-13

Guatemala

1,517,328

1,680,028

1,756,187

4.5%

Ecuador

851,567

889,711

905,021

1.7%

Costa Rica

850,21

798,698

828,526

3.7%

Honduras

536,257

603,309

572,971

-5%

Colombia

507,573

535,527

444,334

-17%

Mexico

238,376

272,548

273,493

0.3%

Nicaragua

43,857

41,372

58,929

42.4%

Peru

25,900

22,624

40,216

77.8%

Panama

65,553

13,240

10,065

-24%

DomRep

2,727

6,197

7,515

21.3%

El Salvador

96

487

1,930

 

TOTAL

4,639,444

4,863,741

4,899,187

0.70%

source: http://apps.fas.usda.gov/gats/ExpressQuery1.aspx

Guatemala, which has a competitive edge thanks to its proximity to the US, was the source of nearly 36% of total US banana imports, followed by Ecuador with 18.5% and Costa Rica with 16.9%.

Banana imports 2014.png

US imports of agricultural products from Guatemala totaled US$1.8 billion in 2013 with leading categories including bananas and plantains ($729 million), coffee (unroasted) ($411 million), fresh fruit (excluding bananas) ($182 million), and processed fruit and vegetables ($108 million).

US banana production is very limited, with Hawaii by far its largest banana producer.