LUIS ALBERTO TORRES PAZ

Peru 2021 | ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luis Alberto Torres Paz, Executive President of PROMPERÚ, about Peru's growing exports in 2020, "Superfoods Peru", and prioritizing new segments of tourism.

PROMPERÚ has anticipated that Peru will increase its exports by more than 50% in 3Q2020 from 2Q2020. What were the main drivers for this accelerated growth, and what are the expectations for 2021?

The main driver of this growth is the performance of non-traditional agro exports, standing out for its resistance to the current crisis. In a conservative scenario, this sector is expected to close 2020 with a growth of 1.4% and 2021 with a growth of 6.9%. During the first few months of 2020, there was a huge positive impact on the non-traditional agro sector, driven by value-added products. However, this impact fell over the months because many countries entered into an economic recession, which caused income reductions and consequently a contraction in consumption. One of the key sectors that will drive this development is agro, mainly the food market, which is beginning to opt for products that contribute to improving health, such as citrus products, which strengthen the immune system and so on. In the last few years, this sector has experienced a solid performance. Although the volumes shipped remained stable, Peruvian companies took advantage of the opportunities offered by international markets to increase the value of their products. Therefore, Peru will have a challenging scenario during 2021 and will have to take advantage of the recovery of Asian countries—which are not only resuming their activities but also paying the highest prices for fresh fruits—and European markets. On the other side, one of the markets that will need a great deal of attention is the US, as it is the main destination for non-traditional agro exports shipped from Peru. Finally, the main challenge for Peruvian exporters is discovering new opportunities, and, therefore, one of the strategies to be developed is the creation and use of different digital platforms to determine which purchases have a relevant, essential, and significant impact on the new consumer, as the global context is driving consumers to change their habits and reevaluate their priorities.

COVID-19 has forced many companies and institutions to accelerate their digital transformation, PROMPERÚ among them. How would you assess your experience with this digital transformation, and what is PROMPERÚ's future strategy in this regard?

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation that was started a few years ago, which is why we could continue with international promotion activities, despite the global conjuncture. Therefore, PROMPERÚ decided to further improve its digital environment; indeed, our main services are now digital. First, we have promoted the virtual implementation of business rounds, where 1,296 exporters and international buyers participated in 27 activities among the food, clothing, manufacturing, services, and fishing industries. This strategy resulted in 2,927 digital business appointments. PROMPERÚ has an ambitious future strategy with four main projects: the international promotion of the Peru Marketplace, a digital channel that gathers the best Peruvian exports on offer; the extension of the e-commerce program to boost the participation of more exporters in marketplaces around the world; the implementation of an institutional CRM to build loyalty among our clients that use specialized services; and the automation of information and service management to improve our internal processes through innovative technologies such as big data, blockchain, and AI.

What is your outlook on the export potential of Peru's superfoods, promoted under PROMPERÚ's Superfoods Peru brand, and how do you see global consumer trends and demand for Peruvian agricultural exports growing?

Peruvian agro-exports have great potential; besides being one of the most important international suppliers of several commercially known products such as blueberries, grapes, citrus species, avocados, asparagus, mangos, fish products, and similar, it has many other products still little known in the world that could also promote a healthy lifestyle. Some examples are lucuma, an extraordinary natural energizer rich in niacin that helps the nervous system; goldenberry, which contains antioxidants, vitamins A and C, phosphorus, and potassium that help delay cellular aging and improve the performance of cardiovascular functions; yacón, recommended for hypocaloric and diabetic diets because its consumption promotes the absorption of glucose in the peripheral tissues and improves the sensitivity of insulin; and sacha inchi, which contains an important source of omega 3, 6 and 9 and can help reduce the amount of triglycerides and other fats produced in the liver, among others. The world is now significantly more conscious of the importance of strengthening our immune systems, leading a healthy lifestyle, and adopting a preventive attitude. Superfoods are a key part of our overall health and well-being. Our brand Super Foods Peru seeks to contribute to a healthy lifestyle and plays an important role in promoting our exports, as well as connecting with our international audience. A clear example of this is the Program of Licensees of Country Brand and Sectorial Brands that PROMPERÚ has created, where we invite international companies and international brands that commercialize Peruvian products around the world to use our sectorial brands in their products; we invite those interested in licensing the use of these sectorial brands to connect with us via marcapais@promperu.gob.pe.

Due to COVID-19 and its related restrictions, there has been an increase in outdoor tourism activities, which are already world class in Peru. What other tourism trends has PROMPERÚ identified, and how has this impacted the country's strategy to promote tourism during this period?

We are currently focusing on safety, enhancing protocols, and giving priority to adventure tourism, which include outdoors activities like trekking, cycling, and even birdwatching, among others. However, this has always been an important segment for us. For example, the Inca Trail is an emblematic trek that is on any avid adventurer's wish list, so Peru is not new in offering once-in-a-lifetime adventure experiences. However, the current circumstances are indeed driving us to reshape our strategy and see it as a challenge and opportunity to showcase all of what Peru has to offer regarding its natural destinations, like Ancash with its amazing lagoons and mountains, Iquitos with the Amazon river, Lake Titicaca, and our world-renowned beaches, perfect for surfers. And this are just some of all the Peruvian natural wonders. Also, millennial and centennial targets will be the first ones to travel once the borders open, so many of these destinations will fit in perfectly with their adventure and outdoors plans. As for other trends, we also expect a boost in the luxury and gastronomic segment. Given that most people are longing for a proper vacation, full of new experiences, high-quality services and cuisine, as well as a desire to reload energies from this difficult year, we can expect many travelers to head to Cusco, Arequipa, Ica, or Lima, which are wonderful places due to their vast history and nature ranges. When the time is right, we will be able to promote all these experiences widely. On the other hand, what we now know as strict changes will become the new long-term good practices for all. Safety, health, sanitary protocols, insurance coverage, and strict measures will, in the end, benefit travelers and the tourism industry in order to ensure a pleasant trip without any worries.

What are PROMPERÚ's priorities and goals for the remainder of this year and 2021?

Our purpose is to significantly contribute to the recovery of exports, tourism, and business investments to generate employment that Peru needs and to promote our exportable offer, magnificent experiences in tourism, and investment opportunities in our country for our business partners. Peru continues to be a leader in high-end tourism due to its unique cultural heritage, biodiversity and gastronomy, as well as its geographical conditions, being an Amazonian and sustainable country. Companies and financial groups from abroad are increasingly interested in our exportable offers and motivating business investment opportunities. In 2021, the year of the Bicentennial of Peru, we want to ensure biosecurity in our cities for national and international tourism, promote the perception of Peru as a destination for foreign direct investment, and be the Best Agency in Latin America for UN's International Trade Center's TPO Benchmark.