Every year Costa Rica carries out the Buyers Trade Mission (BTM) that seeks to put exporters or potential exporters in contact with buyers from all over the world. The bustle of the event took place last year at the National Convention Center, with merchants showing off their products and generating business. However, the pandemic forced the export sector to adapt this year and negotiate virtually.
One of the participants was José Joaquín Heinrich, from Agricultural Inputs and Services, who participated to seek new export opportunities for ornamental plants. Heinrich described the experience as positive, as he ensures that communication with potential buyers was easy and virtual platforms save some logistical work.
Even though this year he was unable to bring buyers to the farm, the platform allowed him to show the plants available and make some agreements to export on a trial basis.
“We have attended BTM for the last six years and have done very well, we always find different clients. This year was especially good because it was very easy to talk to people, one sent the invitation and almost everyone accepted,” he said.
Regarding the preparation with the new modality, he assured that it is similar since they must carry out the same previous studies on the buyers. This year, Heinrich had contact with people interested in importing ornamental plants in countries like Canada, Chile, and England. The company is family-owned and has more than 20 employees. Likewise, it has been on the market for 35 years.
Relationship with exporters
Joshua Guerrero, from the Tropifoods company, participated for the tenth time in the BTM, and this year he also had to adapt to the virtual form. Guerrero commented that face-to-face BTMs promote the expansion of relationships with other exporters and measure markets; However, the virtual modality that was used this year replaced the activity in a good way. In one week, Guerrero attended 16 meetings with buyers from countries around the world.
Although this time the buyers were not able to visit Costa Rica and learn about its production models, Guerrero pointed out that he considers that virtuality allowed a great variety of buyers. This is because many cannot come to the BTM in person due to logistics. Trpifoods mainly exports to the European market and works with roots and tubers.
The first week of the Buyers Trade Mission (BTM), dedicated to the agricultural sector, closed with positive numbers for the country. With almost 500 virtual business appointments and more than 70 buyers from 22 countries around the world, exporters from the Costa Rican agricultural sector identified more than 100 new business opportunities.
In total, 170 agricultural companies in the country participated, from subsectors such as plants, flowers, and foliage; fresh fruits and vegetables; roots and tubers; among others.
The main products traded this week were pineapple, cassava, melon, and banana; while the main markets that showed interest in the offer of Costa Rica were Spain, Canada, the United States, and Italy. “This week the agricultural export sector showed how robust and resilient it is in any scenario,” said Duayner Salas, acting minister of Foreign Trade.
For his part, the general manager of Procomer assured that the agricultural sector has been one of the most affected by the crisis; but despite this, it is a sector that has known how to reinvent itself and innovate.