Many commercial connections, closure of some businesses and solid Chilean presence as attendees and in the presentations was given at the International Congress Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC), held in Boca Ratón, Florida, between May 23 and 25.
There is coincidence among Chilean attendees that this INC Congress has been consolidated as the most important conference of the dried fruit industry in the world, both by the number of attendees, as by the very high quality (decision makers) of them.”Although the emphasis is placed on cultivating relationships between industry players, the ‘meeting point’ platform has been the key space for arranging commercial meetings”, says Juan Manuel Vicuña, export manager of Goodvalley Dried Fruits.
INC gathered major players in the nuts and dried fruit industry from various countries, with nearly 1,200 participants who have participated in thematic round tables, research panels on innovation, production, exports, trends, world consumption, supply and demand, novelties in health research, among others. Chile was the sixth country with more attendees this year, with 69 people, many of whom were representatives of Chile Prunes.INC is the world association of dried and dehydrated fruits, which has a congress that rotates in different countries every year. It is born initially with dried fruits and in second instance it is opened to the dehydrated ones, “from Chile, year to year, we have pushed to increase the presence of the dehydrated ones thing that we have been achieving as for the relevance that is given to it”, says Andrés Rodríguez, executive director of Chile Prunes. José Antonio Soffia, market manager of SuperFruit, says that “in this congress you notice the difference with other events of this type, you are in contact with people who take definitions, who are above the business, there is a conversation of much higher quality, in presentations and networking, regardless of whether there is sale or not”.
Sebastián Plaza, export manager of Frutexsa, says that Chile had smaller volumes. “This year, the crops sold very quickly. He adds that consumers are increasingly demanding in terms of quality standards, “which forces us as exporters to be at the forefront of technology, especially with regard to plum moisture and different requirements for sorbate applications”.
Juan Widmer, product manager of Dried Fruits at Pacific Nut Company points out that the convention was a success, very well organized and with good participation from both national and international companies.
“Regarding the dried fruit panel, he highlighted its focus on the future, “with new ideas, very constructive, especially the presentation by José Tomás Quezada who gave a different look at how to try to develop plums worldwide. With his presentation, it shows that Chile knows what it has to do to promote its products.” Juan Manuel Vicuña adds that the focus was on developing marketing campaigns that aim to increase consumption. “He adds that one of Chile’s pending tasks is with marketing and the implementation of a public-private financing system that will allow long-term campaigns to materialize in new markets.
The presentation by José Tomás Quezada
José Tomás Quezada, sales manager of Pacific Nut and director of Chile Prunes, was the only Chilean speaker at this Congress on behalf of the dried plum industry, pointing out that this product should base its marketing on emotional rather than rational aspects. he showed a survey of a thousand people who were asked when they had last eaten plums. 69% say it’s been a month or more. Why? The vast majority say they don’t remember the plum. So “there’s a flaw in the marketing or promotion of what we’re doing; of a product that has a long list of health benefits but isn’t in the top of mind of consumers. From Chile’s point of view, we promote congresses, events, meetings – which is fine – but we have stopped talking to the end consumer. We have a tremendous product, but people don’t know it. Quezada adds that marketing should be done in two stages: “first, an emotional one where we refer to consumption situations, rituals, Christmas lunch, New Year’s Eve, breakfast, aperitif with friends; and then, we strengthen it with rational arguments that we already have with research, an investment that we have already made in recent years”.