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Favourable exchange rate boosts sales of Surinam vegetables

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-05-11  Views: 1
Core Tip: Until 2015, MN Food Impex, located in Surinam, had seen its vegetable sales declining for years.
Until 2015, MN Food Impex, located in Surinam, had seen its vegetable sales declining for years. Due to a favourable exchange rate and an attractive investment climate in the home country, the exporter suddenly saw sales tripling in 2016. “In no time at all we went from an average three to four tonnes per week to ten tonnes. It actually shocked us a bit,” says Riwaash Nanda, who runs the company with his father. “Bitter melon, okra, boulanger and Antruwa can hardly be stocked up on.”

M.N. Food Impex primarily exports to Dutch wholesalers, who in turn supply retailers and specialist’s shops in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Considering the favourable infrastructure, Riwaash expects that the Caribbean can soon be added to that list. “Our largest product group is bitter melon, also known as bitter squash or balsam-pear, and this is an annual climbing plant from the cucumber family. Okra is a close second, and boulanger (or Surinam aubergine) and antruwa are tied for third place,” Riwaash explains.

The company, founded in 2002, currently exports about ten tonnes of fresh Surinam vegetables per week. Not two years ago, sales were about a third of that. According to Riwaash, it’s because of the fact that the euro rose considerably in value compared to the Surinam dollar in a very short amount of time. “For importers, Surinam has become much cheaper now that the value of the Surinam dollar halved. The fact that the euro has fallen sharply in relation to the US dollar hardly alters that fact. We’ve noticed no to hardly any pressure from the EUR/USD exchange rate, because only a limited amount of costs are paid in the American currency.”

Demand from Dutch importers might be fully represented, but Riwaash still experiences a few obstacles from an agricultural logistical point of view. “Freight tariffs from Surinam are nothing to laugh about. Two euros per kilogram is usually right now. Logistically, we can’t compete with more profitable air routes from the Dominican Republic, our biggest competitor. More operators are active there, and you pay one euro per kilogram when transporting.”

Seaborne freight is not an option for now. “Clearing vegetables can take two to three weeks, that’s just too long to guarantee quality. These vegetables have to be tradeable practically right after harvesting,” Riwaash explains. To extend the shelf life of the Surinam vegetables, the company is taking careful first steps to also start frozen production.

The trader expects that demand for Surinam vegetables – with or without a favourable exchange rate – will continue to increase. “We Surinamese are working hard to provide a constant supply of high quality. We have many brainstorming sessions and hope to profit from an optimum balance of supply and demand. Now that growers see their export potential, they’ve become enthused to increase the number of their plants. I suspect we will be able to continue meeting that increased demand.”

 
keywords: vegetable
 
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