Booming produce industry

Chilean gourmet food exports on display at world showcase

Ethnic, natural, organic and unique products have given Chile a position among the world’s top food producing countries.

Friday, January 06, 2012 Category: Business - Food
Chile’s natural bounty and entrepreneurial spirit lead to a wide variety of unique products (Photo b Chile’s natural bounty and entrepreneurial spirit lead to a wide variety of unique products (Photo by roshelen / Flickr)

The cream of the crop of Chile’s food and beverage products will be on display at the Winter Fancy Food Show 2012, in San Francisco, U.S.A, as the country’s booming produce industry looks to make further inroads into the global gourmet market.

Food exports have become a staple of the Chilean economy, growing by around 70 percent over the last five years to reach a value of over US$12 billion. According to current projections, that figure will reach US$20 billion by 2015, which would firmly establish Chile’s place among the world’s top 10 food producing countries.

Those exports have been led by the industries heavyweights, like fruit and vegetables, salmon and the country’s renowned wine industry, but the seven Chilean companies on display in North America are part of a new wave of entrepreneurs aiming to corner the lucrative gourmet food market.

And there are few better places to do it; the show, which features over 80,000 of the finest food and beverage products from around the world, attracts more than 17,000 foodies, industry experts, traders and producers every year.

High quality staples, like salt, vinegar and olive oil will form part of the display. In recent years Chile’s olive oils have garnered an international reputation, claiming awards at the Leone D'Oro dei Mastri Oleari 2006 and the Sol d’Oro 2006 awards.

Complementing the more traditional products will be a range of innovative gourmet products, such as the wine jellies developed by mother-of-two, Deyanira Reglas from the southern city of Valdivia.Organic and natural products will also feature at the event, including variations on Quinoa, the hot “new” health product, which was domesticated some 300,000 to 400,000 years ago in the altiplano region of South America.

Also on display will be ethnic foods from Chile’s Mapuche people, including merkén, a staple in Chilean spice and a product which, according to the New York Times, is ripe for export. Merkén, which is made from dried and smoked chili ground with coriander seeds and salt, is a perfect addition to just about any meal, particularly roasted vegetables and grilled meats.

Another Chilean industry for investors and foodies alike to to keep on eye is the emerging boutique beer scene, which is rapidly gaining a reputation among lovers of the amber ale around the world.

The Winter Fancy Food Show will run from Sunday, January 15 until Tuesday, January 17. For more information about Chile’s food exports, click here.

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