Chile enters the world of gourmet fruits and juices
Tamaya Gourmet, founded in 2005 by Chilean company Agrícola Tamaya, came as the brainchild of an investors’ group engaged in avocado and mandarin exports. The group saw an opportunity to move into the gourmet Chilean fruit market and took it.
They set out to produce, market and export unique gourmet fruit from Chile to premium niche consumers across the globe.
Daniel Vitis, Tamaya Gourmet CEO, explained that the town of Tamaya, located in the Limarí valley, is a good location for fruit production because frost there is rare. The company had the right location and the willpower to get its specialty project off the ground.
The group kicked off with lucuma and papaya, making the latter the first major Tamaya Gourmet project, called Chilean Carica. The brand was soon positioned in the market and earned the blessing of chefs for its quality, flavor, aroma and color.
“We named the papaya Chilean Carica to differentiate it from the traditional fruit coming from Mexico and Hawaii, because the Chilean papaya is totally different in taste, size and color,” Vitis said.
“We created a separate identity because it’s a unique product in the world that comes from northern Chile, mainly from Region IV up to the inland valleys and southern Peru.”
“We have 25 hectacres of papayas and buy 40 hectares more from independent producers in La Serena. With that, we supplement our production. We also have 10 hectacres of baby pears and other fruit we buy from area producers.”
Chilean Carica was a revelation for Tamaya Gourmet’s partners and the first spark for a much more ambitious project. They wanted to reach consumers with a truly 100% natural product with functional health benefits. From this desire, 100% Pure Fruit was born.
Not just any fruit juice
In 2010, Tamaya Gourmet saw a jump in consumers seeking natural products with health benefits and decided to expand into the market.
“We started working with juices that have functional benefits like antioxidants, like what raspberries, blueberries and grapes have. Then we added papayas, which has the functional benefit of the papain enzyme, which is used for digestion,” Vitis said.
“At that point, we refocused the business strategy, from a gourmet company making quality preserves to a boutique company making 100% pure, natural, one-of-a-kind juices.”
By 2012, the project was already rolling with the “Super Juices” collection made with super fruits that deliver a natural taste and healthy impact. The collection has five varieties: raspberry, blueberry, papaya, grape and muscadine grape sauvignon.
The super juice line has no added sugar and no preservatives. Four additional varieties are being evaluated to grow the collection, all unique fruit only grown in Chile’s Region IV.
Tamaya Gourmet forecasts natural juices will come to occupy 85% of its output, with Chilean Carica and other products comprising the remaining 15%.
Until two years ago, the U.S. and Germany acconted for 65% of exports from the company, with the rest going to Japan and Korea. Today, with the recession in Europe, the set up has changed. 40% is destined for the U.S., 40% to Asia and 20% is divided between England, France and Dubai.
“We have established markets with papayas and baby pears in the United States, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, the Middle East and England. In restaurants and gourmet shops mainly because commodity prices are high and, therefore, the niche market is naturally reduced to premium and gourmet.”
Today, with the new line of juices that began circulation in early 2012, Vitis predicted that the most important market will be Asia, including China, Japan, Korea and Singapore.
“The United States is going to be a very interesting market because they understand the topic of natural juices and Dubai is an attractive bet, because as water is scarce, people must be hydrated. And being a Muslim area, they do not drink alcohol. So what more can you drink? Juices!” Vitis said.
“We have sent the first samples already and we are waiting for orders. But we are in concrete negotiations with the United States, Japan, Korea and Dubai.”
Not everything goes to export, however. The super juices will also be available for the domestic market through the Jumbo supermarket chain, entering slowly into the refrigerated section.
“You have to give it to Jumbo for this. They are adopting a policy of healthy and natural products to offer its customers and that fits us perfectly.”