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LIMA, PERU -- Peru's land and weather make it an ideal location for fresh fruit and vegetable production, according to Fernando Albareda, the commercial counselor for the consulate general of Peru in Miami. "Our fruit is sweeter because we have more sun," he said, adding that moderate temperatures are also a huge plus.

On Peru's central coast, Fahrenheit temperatures typically stay between 50 and 77, he added. "It only gets to freezing in the Andes." In the world, 104 microclimates have been identified, and Peru possesses 84 of those microclimates.

Mr. Albareda and Bernardo Mu?oz, business intelligence deputy director of PromPer?, the Peru Export & Tourism Promotion Board, met with The Produce News Sept. 11 at Expoalimentaria Per? 2009 to discuss Peru's rapid development as a fresh produce exporter.

"Due to our location, we have a lot of sun and good weather, and we can grow anything," Mr. Albareda said. The first big success story began when Peru started producing asparagus about two decades ago.

Mr. Albareda noted that asparagus was not grown in Peru prior to the effort to produce an export crop. Ica was initially chosen as an alternate location in Peru by the Spanish asparagus industry "because asparagus grows better there." Peru produces 2.2 crops of asparagus in 12 months, which is relatively high, he said. He added that the Peruvian industry and scientists are working to improve Peruvian asparagus exports by aggressively working on several new phytosanitary approaches to address the U.S. Department of Agriculture's concerns about Medflies.

Similarly, Peruvians typically consume red onions, but industry leaders with foresight started producing yellow sweet onions for export to the United States.

Peru also has a processed artichoke industry that was created simply to serve international markets.

Grapes are grown in fertile valleys of southern Peru. That young export segment, which uses mostly seedless varieties, has grown in five years to have a value of between $20 million and $25 million, Mr. Albareda said. Mr. Albareda also said that the administration of Peruvian President Allan Garcia, who took office in July 2006, has proven to be very friendly to export development.

Other advantages favoring Peruvian exports are a modern international airport in Lima and multiple seaports. The primary seaport is Callao, which has sprawling container storage lots that run for miles on the north side of Lima. Puerto Paita serves Piura, while the port of Pisco near Ica and another, Matarani, near the border with Chile, are also in service. Preliminary work is underway to create a new super-container port at Chancay, which will be several miles north of Callao.

Mr. Mu?oz said that PromPer? is a government institution created entirely to support exports. PromPer? works very closely with exporters to provide different tools with market information, technical support and news regarding certifications.

There are 7,300 exporters in Peru, with 4 percent of those handling 85 percent of the nation's exports. PromPer? both supports the large exporters and gives the smaller businesses "the necessary tools to stay in business."

Mr. Mu?oz said that Peru's traditional exports are coffee, sugar, cotton, fishmeal and fish oil. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered to be non- traditional Peruvian exports. This includes a small but blossoming floral export business.

A preliminary ruling favoring the export of Peruvian avocados to the United States was published in the Federal Register this spring. In October, a final regulation to allow those exports is expected to be announced, according to Mr. Albareda.