E-commerce growth, new partnerships creating opportunities for Chilean produce industry, says PMA CEO

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E-commerce growth, new partnerships creating opportunities for Chilean produce industry, says PMA CEO

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) CEO Cathy Burns has highlighted how new partnerships across different sectors and the rapid expansion of e-commerce are creating growth opportunities for the Chilean produce industry.

Burns, who was speaking at the State of the Industry address that kicked off the Fresh Connections: Chile event held in the capital Santiago on Wednesday, also spoke about other important factors driving change in the global produce industry, including technological innovations in store and restaurants, as well as science and technology disruption.

According to Deloitte, global grocery sales through e-commerce channels increased 30% last year, she said. Countries leading this growth charge were China, South Korea, the U.K., and France - with the U.S. experiencing 5% growth - but total e-commerce sales are rising rapidly in Chile.

“Chile holds a 9% share of Latin America’s e-commerce market, despite holding only 2% of the region’s population,” Burns said.

“In 2017, annual e-commerce sales in Chile amounted to $4 billion dollars, up from $2.8 million U.S. dollars in 2016. With Wal-Mart’s recent acquisition of Cornershop here, there may be more opportunities to grow fresh produce and fresh food sales through e-commerce.”

Technology also continues to play a key role across the global supply chain, especially as investment funding in agriculture remains strong, Burns observed.

She said that in Chile, partnerships are being formed between government, farmers, technology centers, and investors to spur even more growth in the agricultural economy.

She also noted that the scientific innovations that have driven the plant-based food trend worldwide, which are being seen locally in Chile through The Not Company’s plant-based milk product, continue to grow in response to consumers’ sustainability concerns.

Another potential growth tool available to the Chilean produce industry is social media.

“On Facebook, which is the most popular social media platform in Chile, food is the number-one consumed video. Consider that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it,” Burns said.

“As marketers, think about what that means for your video content and social channels. Perhaps there are more opportunities here in Chile to meet and connect with consumers on Facebook – via video – to further engage them with fresh produce and floral.”

She closed her comments with this advice for the Chilean industry: “There is no doubt that fruits, vegetables and flowers play an important role in cultural expression and well-being, an essential part of a healthier, happier world.

“But, even though we are popular, we have room and opportunity to increase fruit, veg and floral consumption for the health of our businesses. If we are going to grow a healthier world, we must continue to shape cultural influences and share the incredible work our industry does every day.”


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