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International trade opportunities emerge from two days of negotiations at LAC Flavors 2012

ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA – More than 120 food-export companies from Mesoamerica and Haiti participated in the fourth annual LAC Flavors business matchmaking event organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Antigua, Guatemala July 11–13. The exporters had more than 1,200 meetings with 40 potential buyers from the United States, Canada, China, South Korea, and Japan.

The small and medium-sized firms, which offer organic and natural products, fruits, vegetables, seafood, as well as a variety of ethnic and processed products, were carefully matched by IDB specialists to food-importing companies from the rest of the world with a special interest in buying food items from the region.

This year marked the first time that a prior participant in LAC Flavors graduated from being a seller of products to becoming a buyer. Lizeth Correa, of Colombia, the manager of Tropic Kit, in 2009 exported $250,000 in plantains and lemons to the U.S. Thanks to contacts made at LAC Flavors, her sales jumped to$1.5 million in 2010 as she expanded exports to customers in Canada, the Middle East, and the U.S. Today, Correa has diversified her product line to include 15 different products from Colombia and Ecuador, and she is seeking to expand her pool of suppliers to keep up with orders.

The Costa Rican company Natural Sins also has benefited from the LAC Flavors matchmaking meetings. The firm, created by entrepreneurs Andrés I. Domínguez and Iván José Sosa, producesnaturally dried fruit chips in a creative presentation."Our company is young and the opportunity provided by the IDB has accelerated our export process through contacts we made in matchmaking meetings with international buyers,” said Domínguez. If current negotiations with a Canadian buyer are successful, the firm will hire 60 new employees to fulfill the order.

"The IDB’s Integration and Trade Sector is committed to helping small and medium-size firms enter the international arena to promote inclusive trade and to take advantage of trade agreements,” said Fabrizio Opertti, chief of the Trade and Investment Unit in the IDB’s Integration and Trade Sector. “Policies and support programs in this area are essential for businesses to realize their export potential,” he said.

This year, the firms participating in LAC Flavors were selected not only on the basis of export capacity and quality certifications, but also on their record of promoting gender equality in the framework of the Bank’s Operational Policy on Gender Equality in Development.

Previous LAC Flavors events were carried out in Mexico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.

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