Peru’s Danper leads the world in artichoke exports

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How is it going this year with exports, after the year 2009, which was not very promising for the sector?

It’s a year of recovery compared to the performance in 2008 and 2009. In reality, the crisis for the agroindustrial export industry started in 2008 with the acceleration of the global economy and China’s growth, which raised the costs of oil to prices never seen before, and with that its derivative products. Our recovery is the consequence of Danper’s diversification strategy, which gives us the flexibility to adapt to market changes. Now we don’t only do canned goods, but also fresh, refrigerated and frozen products.

In past years, the company has focused more on the artichoke business. Has that worked?

The market has gotten smaller because there is less supply after some major players left. Our market share is now 35%, a strong growth. Camposol, which had 20% of the market, has left, and now we’re going up.

And with that, Peru bumps Spain as the world’s supplier of artichokes.

We’ve been able to replace Spain and also promote the product’s demand in difficult markets like the U.S. We’ve managed so that chains of stores that previously did not have Peruvian artichokes are now increasing their sales due to our supply. In 2010 we’ve become the world’s number one producer and exporter of artichokes.

In what form?

The figures that put us as number one exporter of artichokes are adding the canned and frozen types. Actually, the canned artichokes make up for 90% of the market.

Danper is 16 years old and started with Peruvian and Danish capital. Its farms are located in Trujillo and Arequipa. (Photo: Danper)

And fresh artichokes?

There are still difficulties in having the necessary technology that lets us have a fresh product.

The goal for a company is to give added value to its products…

That was the only way to start from zero in 1994 to become what we are today. If we had gone for making what everyone else makes, we’d still be just be one company among many. As a country, Peru is very good in agriculture. We’ve included a lot of technology and been able to achieve greater productivity, but we are still lacking in the marketing, to have a strong presence and cultivate the loyalty of customers.

Do you achieve that by presenting products in new ways?

Always. For canned goods, for example, you can make a product similar to ones made in China, and sell it at a Made in China price. Our concept behind selling asparagus is that we offer sustainability: This asparagus comes from a country that takes care of the environment and its workers. I can tell you with much pride that Danper has been awarded with almost all the quality and environmental certifications.

Throughout the world, these certifications are becoming more a common standard, they are less and less a plus.

Agroindustry in Peru lacks that. That’s what I’m saying differentiates us. Not everyone is sustainable.

A few days back it was mentioned that companies in Trujillo don’t have good labor practices…

We don’t want to be placed in that same basket. Let’s mention the case of the largest agroindustrial company that recently had a strike. [El Comercio notes: The reference is to Camposol.] Of the largest agroindustrial companies, we are the only one that does not have a union.

Isn’t it healthy for there to be a union so that workers can channel their demands?

In our country, unions are created when communication breaks down and the workers feel they are not being respected. In Danper, workers are organized in clubs at each one of the plants. They are always giving proposals to better their surroundings and the company’s performance. So, the thousands of workers have very clear channels of communication with each one of their managers.

What is your principal objective in listing the company on the stock exchange?

Well, capital markets imply better access to financing. Also, we send the signal that we are able to gain the confidence of those who buy our bonds and we have a different alternative to financing from local banks. Then we will enter the stock market.

Do you have ambitious investment goals for the upcoming years?

We have carried out the main investments in the last three years, beginning before the crisis. The main ones were in the farms, for the asparagus, between 2004 and 2005. Then came the second stage of investments between 2007 and 2008. Lastly, we constructed a processing plant for frozen goods in 2009.

And for the future?

Danper now has its own land: 1,100 hectares of production. However, our investment plan for 2011 involves increasing artichoke production through the renting of land. We plan on having 20% growth compared to 2010. The idea is to continue being number one in the market, which has cost us significantly. To do that, we will continue expanding our processing plants in 2011, but with smaller investments compared to previous years.

Through 2009, how much did you investment?

For the farms, we are talking about around $20 million.

What will 2010 revenues be?

In 2009 we saw revenues of $70 million, but this year we will reach $85 million, which is a 20% growth, led by asparagus and artichokes.

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