This season, for the first time, the Santiago-based Chilean Citrus Committee is spending marketing dollars in North America, said Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America, for the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.

The committee also works to ensure that the quality of exported fruit meets international standards by running workshops and delivering technical support.

There are about 20 exporting companies participating, representing 75% of the Chilean national market and supporting the organization through voluntary funding, Tjerandsen said.

Buyer connection

As part of the committee’s effort, key citrus buyers are flown to Chile to show them quality control procedures, sustainability efforts, food safety and efficient transportation methods and how efficiently Chile is able to move citrus, he said.

The program was tested last year and will be significantly expanded this year, Tjerandsen said.

Committee members hope the buyers go back more knowledgeable of the options and opportunities they have and will use that knowledge to increase the volume of Chilean citrus imports, he said.

The organization complements the efforts of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, which provides an umbrella promotional program for Chilean exports, Tjerandsen said.

The blueberry industry also has formed its own promotional group, and he expects other commodities to do the same.

Meantime, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association continues to carry the message about the value of Chilean fruit to retailers across the country, Tjerandsen said.

“We offer market-proven point-of-sale materials to call attention to fresh market citrus,” he said. That includes tools such as price cards and recipe booklets.

The association works with individual foodservice distributors and with retailers to fund events like display contests and website ads.

The association also exhibits at key gathering locations for buyers, such as the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference & Exhibition in Monterey, Calif., in late July; The Packer’s Midwest Produce Conference & Expo in Chicago in mid-August and the New York Produce Show.