Of all the nations in South America, Colombia, at the top of the continent and bounded by both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, is in the best geographic position to ship to the U.S.—that’s one of the many reasons why it’s a huge cocaine supplier for North America. Cocaine aside, recent changes in Colombian government spending and shifts in market demands have brightened expectations among some of Colombia’s more scrupulous farmers.
Colombian officials have been working with the local avocado industry to comply with U.S. disease-free produce requirements by the beginning of this year to start the flow of avocados northward. As it grows, the industry also looks to sell more to Peruvian and Chinese markets.
Since 2010, the Colombian government has invested an equivalent of $186 million USD into expanding the industry. Westfalia Fruit, a multinational tropical fruit supplier with interests in Colombia, has been busily planting Hass avocado orchards there which should be producing exportable fruit within the next few years, further swelling Colombian avocado volumes in the international market.
The Valle del Cauca region of Colombia has a strong agricultural economy dominated by sugarcane. Nevertheless, some local farmers are diversifying with pineapple—among other fruits and vegetables—as domestic, European, and American demand increases. Planting stock, technology, and knowledge have been brought to Colombia from pineapple-savvy Costa Rica over the past few years, setting the industry on a good footing for establishment and expansion. Proximity to the busy Pacific seaport of Buenaventura makes this region very favorable for perishable farm product exports.
The Colombian government has also heavily invested in beef, financing the construction of four new slaughterhouses built to meet international food safety standards. These four are operated by Frigorifico Rio Frio, Red Carnica, Frigo Sinu, and Frigo Colanta. Export is set to begin in the next few years as herds rebound from losses caused in part by El Niño weather. As with avocado and pineapple, beef exporters must achieve Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) and H.A.C.C.P. (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) food safety certification to export to the United States, among other destinations.
We can only wait to see how the recent U.S. trade kerfuffle will impact these Colombian export ambitions.
I gathered the bulk of the information for this post from the following three stories in Bogota’s El Tiempo: