'Frutas de Argentina': Crisis-ridden fruit sector unites to form umbrella association
The Argentina fruit industry has come together to create an umbrella association and brand called "Frutas de Argentina", which will work to support the sector both domestically and internationally.
The move is aimed at coordinating the efforts of commodity-specific organizations and increasing the country's fruit exports, which have been on a decline over recent years amid a severe economic crisis.
"Frutas de Argentina" is made up of four fruit grower-exporter associations - Federcitrus (citrus), CAFI (apples and pears), CAPCI (cherries) and ABC (blueberries).
Aníbal Caminiti, head of CAPCI, told FreshFruitPortal.com: "We have been working together for various years on plans with the national government ... and last year we took them a bit further."
"What we have done is formed a committee where we have common problems, common requirements, and common needs in order to work on them in a synergetic way with the different areas of the government," he said.
The association will serve to channel information and work together in the development of policies that make the sector more competitive, the opening of new markets, free trade agreements, and international promotions.
The industry will also be able to "better articulate to the authorities what actions can improve the sector", he said.
He said that so far the individual associations have been working on their own specific needs, but from now on they would work together.
Caminiti explained there were numerous models for national collaboration that had inspired the Argentine fruit sector - such as in Chile and Peru. But he emphasized that each country has its own particularities.
Along with the economic crisis in Argentina which has led to lower levels of investment in the fruit industry as well as a controversial export tax and lower export rebates - which was blamed for a drop in Northeastern citrus exports this year, among other issues - the industry is subject to higher tariffs than its Southern Hemisphere competitors in many export markets.
"Nowadays ... we are at a disadvantage in the majority of markets. We have tariffs where we have to compete with Chilean fruit or Peruvian fruit, and that clearly impacts us," he said.
"By and large, [Frutas de Argentina] has to see how it can put us on a more even footing in international markets with our competitors."
On this matter, Caminiti said the industry has been working with the government for a while.
"For example, we have been working on South Korea, and also on a free trade agreement between Mercosur and India."