Emerging Markets / December 23, 2019

Colombia Sees Growth of Exotic Fruit Exports

Driven by a wide variety of products and a diversified customer base, exports of exotic fruits from Colombia continued to grow this year, surpassing $62 million. This figure, published by the government’s export promotions portal, represents a major increase in both total export volumes and share of exports comprised of exotic fruits, and is very encouraging news for anyone interested in agribusiness in emerging markets. 

High international demand and an increase in local production were major factors in the growth of the exotic fruits sector, says Flavia Santoro, the president of Colombia’s export and investment platform, ProColombia. Representing just over a third of Colombia’s total fruit exports between January and September of 2019, the exotic fruits sector added a number of profitable new products, such as araza, copoazú, cocona, aguaje, umarí, guarana, anoliso, camucamu, copoazu de monte, asai, and starfruit. 

Although these products may sound obscure, they have been able to generate significant profit for Colombian producers in recent years, as the nation’s access to markets and reputation on the global economic stage have risen tremendously. With well-established distribution channels in a variety of locations including the US, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, Colombia’s diversified export portfolio has shown increasing interest from foreign investors over the last decade, and FDI inflows have more than tripled since 2010.

Many Amazonian fruits still display potential in terms of exports and market share, says Alvaro Palacio, the president of Colombia’s Fruit and Vegetable Association. “Very few producers have dedicated themselves to maintaining 100% of the crops and thus organizing a national production. There are some species that require certain care when they are not grown in their habitat,” said Palacio. 

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism is working hard to open new markets for Colombia’s exotic fruits sector, and great progress has already been seen in the Asian region. In a September interview, Colombian president Ivan Duque stated that the country plans to expand its exports to Japan, China, Taiwan, and Singapore, especially in the avocado, banana, and beef industries. This creates the opportunity to deepen distribution channels and consolidate markets, Duque said. 

As an exporter of agricultural goods, Colombia possesses numerous advantages over its Latin American rivals. Nestled in the Andean foothills, Colombian farmers can produce certain goods year-round, such as avocado, taking advantage of high prices when other regions are in their off-seasons. In addition, Colombia’s access to both Atlantic and Pacific shipping channels allows the country to place goods in a wide variety of markets. 

The significant increase in Colombia’s export of exotic fruits is encouraging news for producers, buyers, and investors alike. As the nation widens its distribution channels, expands its export portfolio, and consolidates its production, many anticipate a bright future for this South American nation.