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Colombia 2018 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ricardo Uribe, CEO of Cartama Group, on expanding into the US, conquering the global Hass avocado market, and reaching European markets faster than the competition.

Ricardo Uribe
BIOGRAPHY
Ricardo Uribe is the CEO of Cartama Group. He is recognized for his expertise in all the processes associated with the production and marketing of the Hass avocado. He has worked at the firm since its founding in 2000.

What are your main markets?

We export mainly to Europe—the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain—but we are beginning to export to the US. We recently exported our first container there from Colombia. Our packing house is located in Pereira and our farms, measuring 1,500ha in total, are located in Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda, and Valle del Cauca.

Cartama signed an agreement with Mission Produce. What opportunities will this bring to the group?

Mission Produce in the US is the largest marketer and grower of Hass avocados in the world. Cartama signed a joint venture with Mission in July to grow Hass avocados in Colombia—over 1,000ha—and also source from third-party growers. This new company, called CoPaltas, will give Mission the opportunity to source avocados out of Colombia throughout the year. For Cartama, this will provide an opportunity to gain access to the US and Asian markets.

How do you foresee the Colombian avocado market evolving?

According to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism, Colombia is the third-largest producer of avocados globally, if we include green skins and Hass. Colombia has many advantages in terms of climate and logistics. We can produce all-year round and have well-distributed rainfall throughout the year, as well as volcanic soils. We can also grow Hass avocados 1,600-2,600m above sea level. In terms of logistics, we have ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, which gives us the ability to rapidly ship our produce—three days to the east coast of the US, 11 days to Portsmouth, UK, and 12 days to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In comparison, Chile and Peru take 25 days to ship to Rotterdam and have to cross the Panama Canal. Undoubtedly, Colombia will become one of the largest producers of Hass avocados in the world and will be recognized not only for its coffee and flowers but also Hass avocados.