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Study: Costa Rica’s natural food producers should eye Canada’s West Coast

February 8, 2017

Canada’s West Coast offers Costa Rican exporters of health and natural foods great business opportunities, according to a market study by the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER).

Results of the research released this week found that consumer habits in that region would allow local producers to find business partners willing to pay a good price for their products. In addition, Canadian cities along the west coast generally set consumption trends for the rest of the country, making the region an attractive stepping stone.

This is due to the area’s proximity to the U.S. west coast, mainly San Francisco and Los Angeles, the study found. Migrant populations in that part of Canada, mostly Asian and European expats, is also a major factor boosting the consumption of products from foreign markets, PROCOMER reported.

Value-added products

Research found that differentiated foods that provide special benefits have a great potential for the retail market in Canada’s West Coast; examples include products that offer support for athletes, health-related benefits or weight-loss support, or products that facilitate a special diet, are 100 percent natural or are GMO-free.

PROCOMER Market Research Coordinator Karina López said in a news release that the region’s potential for local exporters is significant.

“Health and natural foods accounted for 8 percent of the total share of packaged food in Canada last year. That is higher than the current world average of 4.9 percent,” she said.

Market share

Distribution channels in the region are also convenient for Tico exporters unable to supply large retailers. West-coast regional chains and independent stores control some 40 percent of the food retail market there, López added.

“Research found that the most consumed natural food products in Canada between 2011 and 2015 were fruits, vegetables, coffee, sugar, tea and chocolate,” she said.

Fruit juices, purees and premixes, sauce varieties, and powdered mixes account for 98 percent of Tico exports of food products to Canada in recent years. That’s why PROCOMER officials seek to expand the number of food products sold to that country. Costa Rica is currently Canada’s 42nd-largest business partner.

Canada ranks sixth worldwide in sales of organic products and of sport nutrition products. Sales in these categories, according to official records, are expected to grow by 2 percent annually in the next 5 years.

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