Peruvian lúcuma exports to grow by at least 60% in 2013
Peru's native lúcuma fruit is gaining traction in both local and overseas markets, with its flesh often used as a pulp or flour to infuse its flavor in cakes, pies, yogurt, ice cream and even nutritional supplements. Prolúcuma president and Gastronomic Fruits general manager Sergio Zignago gives www.freshfruitportal.com projections for 2013, while discussing a need for greater capacity to meet demand.
Zignago says with so many scattered growers around the country it is difficult to know the exact area dedicated to the crop, but members of Prolúcuma - who account for 90% of the fruit's exports - have around 200 hectares.
"The export supply in Peru this year will be between 400-500 metric tons (MT) of pulp I think," he says.
He highlights this is a big jump from the 250MT exported last year, with the fruit increasingly attracting the attention of consumers worldwide.
However, the challenge remains of incentivizing growers to expand their crops and attracting new growers to the fruit.
"The main goal we have at Prolúcuma is to teach growers what the appropriate varieties are that should be grown and to show them there is a nice project to be developed.
"Incredibly, despite the lúcuma having a lot of potential and being unique in the world, there hasn't been much development in Peru, for a lack of knowledge more than anything.
"That's why we want to incentivize its cultivation, showing that there are good varieties and good returns."
In terms of exports, Zignago says more work is needed to promote the fruit in markets like the U.S. and Europe, but such efforts have not yet taken place because the productive solvency is not yet there to supply in large volumes.
The association is waiting for the industry to mature. Neighboring Chile is currently the largest export market for the fruit, accounting for 90% of pulp purchases.
"The fields are small and few. There is a lot of need for the fruit and in the U.S., together with Europe, they demand more flour than pulp. That makes supply even more limited for these markets because flour needs more fruit for its elaboration. Some 20MT more or less of flour are being exported at the national level.
"As our production is still very limited, we cannot expose ourselves to offering something to which we are not able to attend. We have to go hand in hand with the production supply and foreign demand. In other words, we have to ensure that here we are also increasing our fields of the crop."
Local vs foreign market
Zignago says the domestic market has great opportunities for the fruit too as it presents better prices than foreign markets, receiving volumes of around 400MT annually.
"Consumers are increasingly consuming Peruvian lúcumas. They are valuing local products more.
"The local market price is a little bit higher. Furthermore, the impetus it is giving to Peruvian cuisine has meant that products of origin, among them lúcuma, are valued more."
He adds that his company, along with Mariposa Andina, account for 90% of the country's frozen lúcuma pulp exports.
His dream is that the fruit be recognized worldwide on every table with dessert, and be recognized as Peruvian.
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