Brazil has traditionally exported a very low portion of its total fruit production, but recently it has devised a plan to greatly increase its presence on the international stage.
The country, which is the world’s third-largest fruit producer after China and India, began implementing a new strategy in mid-2017.
“In the first half of this year our exports grew 16% in value and 11% in volume”, said Jorge de Souza, project manager of Brazilian fruit association Abrafrutas.
Exports increased to US$333 million and 355,170 metric tons (MT) year-on-year, respectively, over the six-month period.
Abrafrutas has been working with producers and regional associations to boost international trade, which has also been spurred on over recent years in part due to the government’s reduction in grower subsidies.
The aim is to reach US$1 billion in exports in the 2019-20 season.
“We are still trying to reach the first billion dollars of exports, we are close to 800 million, but we want to hit the billion-mark by 2020. However, I am sure we can achieve this by next year, following the current plan of action”, said Souza.
Asia in the crosshairs
The current focus on taking advantage of commercial windows and strengthening Brazil’s presence in Asia and the Middle East.
“For example, Mexico is a big lime producer, and we can adjust our season to start immediately after their season ends to take advantage of those windows in the market,” said Souza.
In other markets – like the EU, which receives around 60% of Brazilian fruit exports – the short-term objective is to increase volumes and profits.
“The medium-term strategy is to try to increase the phytosanitary agreements with the U.S. and also with the Middle East, although in the Middle East the work is to develop the habit of consuming tropical fruits,” said Souza.
Long-term, China is the key focus.
“China is a big grower but during the winter they are not able to produce, so I think we have many opportunities to offer our fruit during the winter in China,” he said.
“We are talking with China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, among other countries, trying to accelerate phytosanitary processes. Ideally, we will have approved the first agreements of fresh fruit shipments to China at the end of 2018, beginning of 2019, which would be melons”.
Melons are one of Brazil’s key fruit exports, along with mangos, limes, papayas, table grapes and avocados.
At the moment the country sends fresh mangoes to South Korea and both mangoes and melons to Japan, but volumes remain low.
Another fruit that they hope to strengthen is the Prata banana, which differs from the Cavendish in appearance and flavor.
“We are presenting it in international markets. I was recently at an event in London and we had the opportunity to give it to the consumers to try and everyone has reacted positively,” he said.
“We believe that it will be an innovation, definitely”, said Souza.