Many commercial connections, closure of some businesses and solid Chilean presence as assistants and in the presentations was given at the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC), held in Boca Raton, Florida, between May 23 and 25.
There is a coincidence between Chilean attendees that this INC congress has established itself as the most important conference of the nut and dehydrated fruit industry in the world, both by number of attendees, and by the very high quality (decision makers) of them.
“While emphasis is placed on the cultivation of relationships between industry players, the meeting point platform has been the key space for the concertation of business meetings,” says Juan Manuel Vicuña, export manager of Goodvalley Dried Fruits.
INC has brought together great players from the nuts and dried fruit industry from various countries, accounting for nearly 1,200 attendees who have participated in thematic roundtables, research panels and in topics of innovation, production, exports, trends, global consumption, supply and demand, developments in health research, among others. Chile was the sixth most assistant country this year, with 69 people, many of whom were representatives of Chile Prunes.
INC is the global association of nuts and dried, which has a rotating conference in different countries every year. It was initially born with nuts and in second instance opens to the dehydrated, “from Chile, year after year, we have pushed to increase the presence of the dehydrated things that we have achieved in terms of the relevance that is given to it”, says Andrés Rodríguez, ceo of Chile Prunes.
José Antonio Soffia, market manager of SuperFruit, states that “in this congress you notice the difference with other events of this type, you are in contact with the people who take definitions, who are above the business, gives a much more quality conversation, in presentations and networking, regardless of whether there is sale or not”.
Sebastián Plaza, export manager of Frutexsa, notes that Chile had lower volumes. “This year, the crops sold very quickly.” He adds that consumers are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of quality standards, “which forces us as exporters to be at the forefront of technologies, especially in terms of plum moisture and different requirements of 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 a good participation of both national and international companies. “Given the stage of the year, Chilean exporters are in the process of selling our crop, so it’s a good opportunity to do new business,” he says.
Regarding the dry fruit panel, he emphasized his focus towards the future, “with new ideas, very constructive, especially the presentation of José Tomás Quezada who gave a different look at how to try to develop plum worldwide. With its presentation, it is shown that Chile knows what it has to do to promote its products.”
Juan Manuel Vicuña adds that the focus was on the development of marketing campaigns that aim to increase consumption. “California devotes large public and private resources to the promotion, as well as research and development, areas in which Chile has much progress.
He adds that one of Chile’s unfinished business is with the marketing and implementation of a public-private financing system that allows long-term campaigns to materialize in new markets. “We need to strengthen local synergies to develop cutting-edge strategies,” adds Juan Manuel Vicuña.
The presentation of 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 dry plum industry, noted that this product should base its marketing on more emotional than rational aspects.
He showed a survey of a thousand people who were asked when they had last eaten prunes. A 69 replies that a month or more ago. Why? The vast majority say they don’t remember plum. Then “there is a flaw in marketing or promotion of what we are doing; of a product that has a long list of health benefits, but is not at the top of consumers’ mind. From Chile’s point of view, we promote conferences, events, meetings – which is fine – but we have stopped talking to the final 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 consumer situations, rituals, Christmas food, New Year, breakfast, aperitif with friends; and then we strengthen it with rational arguments that we already have it with research, investment that we have already made in recent years.”