Peru is set to carry out its first-ever mandarin exports to the recently-opened Japanese market, following a visit of an inspector from the Asian country last year.
Peruvian phytosanitary watchdog Senasa said that Nakahara Shigehito of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) visited mandarin orchards and packhouses between April 1-5, as part of the work plan agreed by the two countries.
Sergio del Castillo, president of industry association ProCitrus, told FreshFruitPortal.com that the access to Japan "marks a milestone".
"It is a very prestigious market, and not just anyone can enter it," he said.
"It's taken us many years to carry out the studies to demonstrate to the authorities that we have a product that complies with all the requirements and the conditions that they demand, from the phytosanitary aspects to the quality issues," he said.
The first mandarins will be shipped with a limited volume as an evaluation to see the conditions they arrive in.
"We will be doing trials initially, as we have always done in all the markets that we open. Peru has never entered with large volumes to begin with - it's always done the first exports to see if the customers accept them and then from the second year we will see what potential there is over there," he said.
Peru achieved market access to Japan in September 2018, a decade after negotiations began.
Castillo said back then that the fruit would be subject to cold treatment of 3ºC for around 22-23 days, which he said would allow the fruit to arrive at the destination in good condition.
“Japan is not a very big market if we compare it with other Asian markets. Japan is a niche market, it is a market in which the population is declining and also in which fruit and vegetable consumption is declining due to changing demographics,” he last year.
However, he said that it offers high prices and would undoubtedly benefit the Peruvian citrus industry by helping exporters to diversify and also boosting the country’s reputation as a trustworthy exporter.
In 2015 Peru also gained access to the Japanese avocado market, and Agriculture Minister Gustavo Mostajo said: “A similar situation is expected in the coming years for satsuma mandarins.”