Peru’s asparagus leader Camposol looks to expand avocado production


And what is the next step?
I think that a company like Camposol has to look at the market in a much more scientific way. This should involve a lot of marketing, market analysis and a choice of strategies to reach markets more efficiently. We are very dependent on Europe and that is not ideal right now. The mentality is changing from a company involved in production to a company that will look at the aspect of marketing; we no longer see the product as a commodity, but as something that may carry a brand which may have a specific placement in determined markets. Our product can have an added value to be more efficient. In the end, we have to consider quality rather than quantity: that is the challenge of Camposol.

Avocado — called palta in Peru — on its way to market.

This proposal is different to the one that what was raised last year as a strategy for alleviating the crisis: to increase the production of fresh asparagus (you were the leaders in canned asparagus export) and start working with grapes.
At the beginning it was a change of goal. Giving fresh asparagus a bigger role was important because it has a more interesting market than canned asparagus. The latter suffers badly from competition from China and Peru itself; it is also linked to Spain and southern France, where the price dropped a lot. Fresh asparagus is more profitable. It was also interesting to work with grapes because they open up new markets such as China and Russia. This allows us to enrich Camposol’s portfolio.

What will the process to launch a new brand be?
We are looking into that opportunity because there are two routes in my opinion: launching a brand or buying one off the market.

You currently have no label?
We have a few but we do not work on them; we do not spend anything to market the label.

Will it be for all products or for each line?
We could have an umbrella brand and then sub-brands for some categories. We have the vision to be a multinational company with presence in all markets and we need an identification brand. The alternative of seeking a new brand will cost more, while buying an existing one and capitalizing it will perhaps be the best thing to do. The label is a way out of the “commoditization” of our products.

The Company: Camposol
Location: Trujillo and Piura, northern coastal regions in Peru
Age: 13 years
Partners: Camposol changed owners three years ago. Today it belongs to the Dyer Coriat group.

How many hectares have do you currently own?
We have 6,000 hectares in production, of which 2,500 are asparagus and another 2,500 avocado, while the rest is divided into mandarins, piquillo peppers and grapes.

What about artichokes?
We abandoned them. They had to be planted in the south through suppliers and the price dropped after the crisis. Besides, we did not achieve good management, so the company, before I arrived, decided to abandon the crop.

Will those 6,000 hectares increase this year?
It depends on the avocado. To the extent that the export of avocado reaches production stage in two or three years, the crop will grow. From this year on, Peru will be able to enter the U.S. market with a higher demand for avocados. That country has the highest per capita consumption of avocados.

How much will the avocado export increase?
Within four or five years we will be exported 50 thousand tons, whereas today we only reach 15 thousand. We currently have about a thousand hectares that are not yet producing.

What investments will you make this year?
We will make investments to improve efficiencies in the processes of the plant and in the field. This will mean about US $5 million. It also involves some mango varieties other than Kent.

What is your expected revenue for this year?
About 125 million dollars. The figure will be very similar to that of 2009. We are fairly low in raw material, we lack a bit of asparagus and avocado to reach the levels of 2009, but we will work on efficiencies.