Business & Economy

Latin American ‘superfoods’ make their way into the Japanese market

Tokyo, Mar 8 (EFE).- “Superfoods,” products with high nutritional value such as Peruvian cocoa, Mexican avocado or Brazilian acai, are the great Latin American bet within the framework of Foodex, the largest food fair in Asia.

The main event for the Tokyo food industry, which opened its doors Tuesday and is expected to attract some 30,000 visitors until it ends Friday, welcomes more than 2,500 companies from 60 countries in its 48th edition, including dozens from eight Latin American countries.

On the Mexican side, the avocado, one of the star products in the Japanese market, filled the country’s stand with different shades of green – depending on the level of ripeness – which exported some $ 1.35 billion in agri-food products to Japan last year.

“The perception of the Mexican product is very good, it is a safe product, of high quality and very competitive in price. We are market leaders in avocados, we are in fourth place in pork and also leaders in asparagus, tequila and mezcal,” Alberto Cuellar, head of agriculture at the Mexican embassy in Japan, told EFE.

Brazil filled its Foodex stand with acai, a palm tree fruit that grows wild, whose berries are an essential food in the diet of the indigenous people of the Amazon and which is now part of the regular breakfast of many people worldwide.

“The main reason for its popularity is the nutritional benefit it provides, since it is rich in antioxidants, but also the social aspect, since this fruit helps maintain the current state of the forests,” said Izabella Mello, from the Brazilian company Petruz, which markets this product frozen and in powder form.

Mello, who recommends eating it for breakfast mixed with banana and granola, said farmers who collect this fruit decide to keep the forest intact and not sell their land to large corporations for more intensive uses.

Peru, which has been positioning itself as a producer of “superfoods” internationally with supplements such as maca – a type of powdered Peruvian ginseng – opted this year for cocoa and its great antioxidant properties and beneficial fats.

“Cocoa is antioxidant and energetic and it is a very natural product that can be produced organically,” said Gennaro Lettieri, founder of the artisan chocolate shop Tesoro Amazonico, which produces organic chocolate, cocoa beans and mass, as well as a type of sugar-free sweetener based on this product.

In addition to their well-known beef meats, this year Argentines brought their healthy mate tea to Foodex, a product now seeking to enter the Japanese market, which already boasts other types of teas, such as matcha or sencha – varieties of green tea.

“Mate contains a lot of minerals and polyphenols so it’s good for energy,” said Yoichi Maeno, importer of the well-known brand of yerba mate Taragui to Japan, although he said Japanese consumers still have to get used to its taste.

Argentine company Pietrelli also brought its dehydrated fruit, such as raisins and plums, used for consumption as a “snack” or also in preparations such as bread or pastries, and have a lot of nutritional fiber. EFE


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