Last Thursday, the United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a final rule in the US Federal Register outlining phytosanitary requirements for Colombian exports of capsicum pepper varieties to the united states. The publication effectively approves exports of bell pepper and other varieties to the US, joining Colombian shipments of Hass avocados, Uchuvas (cape gooseberries), blueberries, tangerines, pineapples, and Tahiti limes.
Colombia is now approved to export 99 fresh agricultural (meat and produce) products to the US.
This creates a new channel for Colombia to take advantage of the bilateral free trade agreement in force with the US since 2012. While the US imports $1.4 billion USD of peppers per year, Colombia up until now has only exported $137,587 USD per year, primarily to Aruba, Curaçao, and Panamá according to statistics by José Manuel Restrepo Abondano, minister of commerce, industry and tourism. México leads exports to the US with 68% of the market, followed by Canada with 25%, the Netherlands with 3%, and then Guatemala, Spain, Dominican Republic and Honduras.
“The access to the United States market for peppers translates into another step to continue positioning ourselves as a great global supplier of agri-food, in order to respond to the call that FAO has made for us to be one of the world’s pantries. This, thanks to the fact that we have a constant production throughout the year and a great diversity of thermal profiles. From ProColombia, we will accompany entrepreneurs in this sector to conquer American palates,” said ProColombia president Flavia Santoro.
Colombian commercial pepper production takes place primarily in the Valle del Cauca department north of Cali, Antioquia around Medellín, and on Colombia’s vast Caribbean plains.
Colombian sweet pepper photo by Malory Andrea