Bolivia triples U.S.-bound quinoa exports over decade -

Bolivia triples U.S.-bound quinoa exports over decade

Benefitting from the global consumer trend toward natural and organic foods, Bolivia has greatly boosted its quinoa exports to the U.S. over recent years and is now shipping into Asia.

CABOLQUI general manager Paola Mejía

CABOLQUI general manager Paola Mejía

A representative of the Bolivian Chamber of Quinoa Exporters (CABOLQUI) told around 40% of national production now went to the U.S., compared with just 12% a decade ago.

"Demand for quinoa is growing, it’s becoming increasingly recognized at the global level. People are recognizing it for its nutritional value, so it’s becoming more and more a part of people’s diets," general manager Paola Mejía said at the recent Expoalimentaria trade fair held in the Peruvian capital Lima.

The quinoa is shipped via seafreight, leaving from the Chilean ports of Arica and Iquique and arriving on the West Coast.

The organization does not yet carry out promotional campaigns in the U.S., but does participate in various trade fairs to generate more business for the 35,000 metric tons (MT) of quinoa produced annually.

The Bolivian quinoa industry has also recently started exporting its produce to Asia, where Mejía said consumers are increasingly favoring healthy products.

"In Asia would could practically quadruple our exports," she said.

"It’s a very big market and the organic trend over there is growing and we think that in the future we will be shipping large quantities to Asia."

The main markets in Asia are Arab countries, China and Singapore. Mejía said while there may some day be competition with local produce, currently quinoa is only under trial production in  a few areas including China and India.

A further 20% of Bolivian production is also shipped to 12 European countries, including the Netherlands, France, Germany and the U.K.

Mejía said the Bolivian quinoa industry was going through some significant changes, with production growing annually and a new focus on traceability to meet international standards.

"I think that we’re in a transitional phase, increasing our production and selling more and more value-added products with organic ingredients," she said.

"Nowadays we are very focused on technology to improve production. This is an industry that we recognize as being made up of lots of small farmers with their own native seeds that haven’t been genetically modified.

"We are also currently upgrading our systems to improve the traceability of quinoa in Bolivia. As it is organic we need to give more guarantees to our clients so that they can be sure that when they buy Bolivia quinoa it doesn’t have chemical inputs like chemical fertilizers or insecticides."