Discover Nicaragua food sector
Historically called the “breadbasket of Central America,” Nicaragua is known for its agro-processing industries (slaughterhouses, meat packing plants, food processing plants, cooking oil plants and dairy facilities) and the manufacturing of animal by-products (candles, soap and leather), which have been the backbone of Nicaragua’s food industry. The last decade was a period of rapid growth of the industrial sector, as new external tariffs established by the signing of free trade agreements (FTAs) have allowed the growth of import-substitution plants in Nicaragua.
“Nicaragua is a land of opportunities,” said Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua William M. Tapia. According to PRONicaragua, the Official Investment and Export Promotion Agency of the Government of Nicaragua, the agribusiness sector contributed to approximately 60 percent of the nation’s total export value, excluding free zones, in 2013.
With numerous investment opportunities in the food industry, including the food processing sector (preserves, fried food, etc.), snacks and cookies, cereals and grain products, as well as the sweets and candy market segment, there is little wonder that renowned international companies such as Kraft Foods, Parmalat, Cargill, Nestlé, Hortifruti (Wal-Mart), Precious Woods and Numar have already established operations in Nicaragua.
In addition to generous fiscal incentives and a qualified labor pool, Tapia remarked that Nicaragua allows great market access, thanks to the FTAs the country has signed with the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Panama, and most recently with the European Union.
“Nicaragua is also part of the Central American Common Market, which confers with the free movement of capital, services and human resources in the region, and is constructing the Central American Customs Union,” he went on.
At the moment, the country is negotiating FTAs with Chile, Canada and CARICOM while offering preferential access to the Canada, Norway and Japan through Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). At the same time, Nicaragua is negotiating GSPs with the countries of the ALBA and Mercosur.
The FTA with Taiwan was signed on June 16, 2006, consolidating Nicaragua’s advantageous position as an export platform to this important market, and beyond.
A Thriving Agribusiness Sector
it appears that Nicaraguan entrepreneurs all have one common goal in mind: to use Taiwan as a springboard to other Asian markets. For Entizar Zalan, the project and operations manager of Agrotecnisa, her company has been working with Taiwan for 5 years, and that it has opened many doors for Nicaragua’s commerce.
Furthermore, Zalan explained that Taiwan serves as a bridge between Nicaragua and mainland China, stressing that in the short time of 5 years, her company’s exports grew from 1 to 100 containers of coffee at a time. Zalan, who’s in Taiwan for the second time, noted that Agrotecnisa has both specialty coffee and conventional coffee. She also pointed out that coffee shops are not as ubiquitous in Taiwan, which she says is advantageous for Nicaraguan coffee exporters because they have more opportunities to sell their coffee.
Also, Silvia Sequeira, vice GM from Macesa, a leading meat exporting company, said that meat from Nicaragua is grass fed and natural, meaning that the meat contains less grease and is generally healthier and more flavorful than most meat on the market. Sequeira added that Macesa wants to expand its market share to mainland China. She voiced her concern, however, that the quantity of Nicaraguan meat is not enough to satisfy the Chinese market. But overall, she sees the Taiwanese market as a gateway to the Chinese market, which she thinks Macesa will soon reach as it has been in Taiwan for 15 years.
Meanwhile, Alejandro Arana, sales manager of Aguardiente Extra Fino Mombacho, also agrees that Taiwan is a gateway to the rest of Asia. Different from the two companies above, Aguardiente hasn’t made a business in Taiwan yet, and this is the first time the company has come to Taiwan. According to Alejandro Arana, the Taiwan Embassy in Nicaragua recommended that they participate in Food Taipei to expand their market to Asia and to meet people from all over the world. The company manufactures spirits and liquors. Its spirits are 34 percent alcohol and its liquors are 28 percent alcohol.
Last but not least, Ariela Nazarena Roque Blandino, coffee sales manager of Finca San Ramón, noted that her company also wants to improve sales in Taiwan. “We have been selling to the U.S. and Japan, and we’re very excited to advance to this market,” said Nazarena Roque Blandino. This company with specialties in green coffee, red catuai, yellow catuai and pacas coffee, is here for the first time to set foot in Taiwan. In the mid- to long-term, Finca San Ramón also sees Taiwan as a gateway to the rest of Asia, and is very excited to expand its market presence in the region.
With so many exciting Nicaraguan food products featured at the Taipei International Food Show, it is definitely an event you won’t want to miss. Until June 28, the Nicaraguan display area with the booth of the Central America Trade Office (中美洲經貿辦事處) features opportunities to sample meat and agricultural products, and of course coffee; so if you are a prospective investor or buyer, be sure to come along.
From left, Teóflio José Narváez Rodríguez, general manager of Buena Vista Coffee, María Cristina Narváez from Buena Vista Coffee, Lennín Zeledon Ch. (back row), sales director overseas development of Serviconsa, Juana Roque, interpreter for Finca San Ramón, Niels Ingemann Møller (back row), president of Ingemann, Norma Re, project manager of Petnicsa, Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua to the R.O.C. (Taiwan) William M. Tapia, Frederik Zeuthen (back row), CEO of Café Nor, Xochilt Scarleth Artola Cerna (sitting in the front row) from Buena Vista Coffee, Pablo Jose Ortez Beltran from Buena Vista Coffee, Alejandro Arana R. (back row), sales manager of Aguardiente Extra Fino Mombacho, Gilberto E. Wong, marketing consultant of Suplidora Internacional S.A., Silvia Sequeira (back row), vice general manager of Macesa, Ariela Nazarena Roque Blandino (front row), coffee sales manager of Finca San Ramon, Entizar Zalan, project and operations manager of Agrotechnisa, Zamira Zalan from Agrotechnisa, Julio Rivera, general manager of Inversiones Rivera S.A., pose together during the first day of the Food Expo.
From left, Cecelia González, fairs and mission advisor of Proesa, Oscar Navas, general manager of Expronav, Matilde de Polomo, president of Shuchil, Ambassador of El Salvador to the R.O.C. (Taiwan) Marta Chang de Tsien, Rhina de Rehmann of Hacienda Los Nacimientos, Pedro Menjívar, president of Pamem, Rodriguez Jacobo Fredy, chef at S&P Coffee, and Rodrigo Blanco, tourism, trade and economy consultant of El Salvador, visit the El Salvador booth on the first day of the five-in-one Food Expo.