As Latin America’s most stable and prosperous nation, Chile has been the region’s fastest growing economy and serves as gateway to the rest of the vast continent. But unknown to many Asians, a large contributor to the Chilean economy is its exports of fresh fruit and other foodstuffs.
In recent years, Chile has witnessed a sharp growth in the exports of nuts, mainly walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, thanks to the joint effort of Chilenut, an association of walnut growers and exporters that accounts for 55% of land planted with nut fruit. As nut exports make up 20% of Chile’s food exports, the group is stepping up efforts to improve technology and the skills of its growers and workers.
Recognized for their quality, Chilean-grown nuts have become very popular in Europe, where they are used widely in cooking and are also viewed positively for their health benefits.
“The quality of our walnut and almonds are better than those in California. Our products are more expensive because of its superior organic characteristics and longer shelf life,” Chilenut CEO Juan Luis Vial.
Chilenut wants to increase exports to Asia, particularly Japan. But, the main hurdle is the limited awareness of Chilean nuts’ winning characteristics among Asian consumers. Another factor is the lower price of nuts from other countries.
“There is interest in our products, but it’s difficult for us to start in a new market with higher prices. We need to prove the value. Educating them is the first step to enter,” Vial explained.
Undeterred by those obstacles, Chilenut is employing various ways, like promotional events and brand awareness exercises, as well as engaging with different trade organizations and governmental bodies to gain greater acceptance in Asia.