Peruvian pomegranates, figs edge closer to U.S. market access

March 15 , 2016

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published pest risk analyses for imports of Peruvian pomegranates and figs, sparking high hopes market access could be gained for these crops very soon.

Peruvian Agriculture Minister Juan Manuel Benites

Peruvian Agriculture Minister Juan Manuel Benites

The analyses concluded the application of one or more designated phytosanitary measures would be sufficient to mitigate pest risks, but the government agency is open to comments from the public on the issue until May 13.

In a press release Peru's Agriculture Minister Manuel Benites indicated he expected access would be granted soon.

"The steps to open the U.S. market to Peruvian agri-exports have been reduced thanks to the efforts that started last year with the Under Secretary of Agriculture of that country, Edward Avalos," Benites said.

"The proof of this is that through these publications we have to wait for a public consultation period (60 days) and after that exports will materialize for these fruits from Peru."

The breakthrough comes after four years of negotiations between phytosanitary officials from both countries.

The Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MINAGRI) forecasts pomegranate exports to the U.S. of between 10,000-20,000 metric tons (MT) with a value of US$15-30 million.

In the case of figs, the ministry estimates annual shipments of 5,000MT with a value of US$15 million.

Jorge Checa, who is the general manager at Agricola Athos and represents Peruvian associations of fig and pomegranate growers, thanked the government for its efforts as placing fruits in new markets can be difficult.

In 2014, Checa told www.freshfruitportal.com about what the opening would mean for the industry.

"Peru has always suffered from two factors that limit the industry: one is logistical and the other is phytosanitary, but as once you resolve one, you start to find a solution for the other, and once these issues are solved Peru will be able to show all its potential," he said at the time.

"Pomegranates are still an incipient product in Peru, however as everyone knows, in Peru there is a strong participation of large corporates in agriculture, and one characteristic is that is that when Peru touches a product, very rapid growth is seen.

"Most of the fruit is shipped whole and I think this will be the trend because with the arils it's a time bomb; from the moment that you open the pomegranate to take out the arils, the shelf life is very short."

Fundo Sacramento S.A.C general manager Rodolfo G. Pacheco told www.freshfruitportal.com the authorities confirmed the pomegranate protocol would be opened up in 60 days to start the first shipments, and that these expectations were announced at a lunch that took place yesterday between U.S. and Peruvian government representatives.

"Shipments of 1,000MT are forecast for the start of 2017 with an increase of 25% year-on-year for the USA market. This year there won't be much volume - it'll be more trials," Pacheco said.

Lead photo: www.shutterstock.com

www.freshfruitportal.com

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