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The 15th edition of the Agritrade export show will be presented by Agexport, the Guatemalan Exporters´Association, this March 17-18. Agexport represents, promotes and develops non-traditional exports of Guatemalan companies. The event was first held in Guatemala in 1987. It has grown to be a trade show for Central America's food exports.

The 2011 meeting will be held again in the historic five-star Hotel Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua, Guatemala.

Dunia Miranda-Mauri, the trade commissioner of the Guatemala Trade & Investment Office in Miami, said Jan. 19 that all of Guatemala’s trade offices in the United States are publicizing the event, which promotes Central American products to the international market. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the program’s centerpiece. Allied industries are also involved in exhibiting at or attending the show.

Ms. Miranda-Mauri estimated that there will be as many as 600 international visitors, including buyers, importers and service providers at the 2011 show. At the last show, held in March 2009 at the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, there were 72 international buyers. For this year, she said, "I estimate there will be 100 or more." For the last show, Agexport organized 400 matchmaking meetings between buyers and exporters. Ms. Miranda-Mauri expects that will go to 500 or more this year.

Two years ago, 1,500 people attended Agritrade conferences and including Guatemalans who toured the show floor, 2,500 people were in attendance. A post-conference survey of 2009 exhibitors indicated that 100 percent “were satisfied with the exhibition. Ninety-two percent said that it exceeded expectations.” Of buyers, 91 percent said they would come again and 93 percent said the show surpassed their expectations and 100 percent were satisfied with the venue in Antigua.

“We have new products for the market” this year, Ms. Miranda-Mauri noted. The multilateral Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States has been a factor in Guatemala’s role as an offshore source for the U.S. trade. “That has been very strong for exporting produce to the United States,” Ms. Miranda-Mauri said.

She said that Guatemala has been a leader in Central America for addressing food-safety concerns. Food-safety matters will be a key topic for conferences in March.

“We understand to serve the international market, and especially the United States, we have to satisfy every food-safety requirement,” Ms. Miranda-Mauri said. “The growers and the association of growers have that priority. We need to keep our customers satisfied and at same time have confidence that the products we are serving are the best that they can buy.