Palmito Exporter Eyes Chilean Market

May 21, 2004

COSTA Rican heart-of-palm(palmito) exporter Demasa says it’s readyto again earn a place in the hearts ofChilean consumers.Demasa is confident lower tariffs as aresult of the Costa Rica-Chile Free-TradeAgreement and higher international heart-of-palm prices will enable the company toconquer 50% of the Chilean market withinthe next five years.Chile is one of the world’s top fiveconsumers of heart of palm. Last year itimported 160,000 crates of the product.Demasa resumed heart-of-palmexports to Chile last year after a five-yearabsence. Last year, the company senteight containers to Chile. This year itplans to send 20 containers.Costa Rican heart-of-palm exportshave been suffering since 1998 – the yearEcuador started exporting the product.High tariffs, Ecuador’s proximity to Chileand low international prices drove CostaRican heart-of-palm exporters out of theChilean market.The situation has changed, accordingto Philippe Balayer, sales manager forDemasa.“The prices have evened out, theincrease in trade between both countrieshas improved transportation conditionsand there is no longer a tariff on ourexports,” Balayer explained.Last year, Costa Rican heart-of-palmexports totaled $20.9 million. Costa Ricaexported $22,935 worth of heart-of-palmto Chile in 2003, down from $134,188 in2002.

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