Beyond sugar and coffee

From Salvadoran rum to loroco flower pesto, a variety of unique products from El Salvador can be found at this year’s Taiwan Agriculture Week

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 4

Agricultural products made up a big part of El Salvador’s 33 percent increase in exports to Taiwan during the first nine months of this year.

El Salvador is probably best known for its coffee, and Taiwan is its biggest sugar importer in Asia at 20 percent of total production. However, the stars at El Salvador’s booth during Taiwan Agriculture Week, which began yesterday at the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center, are Salvadoran rum, organic noni fruit, loroco flower pesto and jocote jam, as well as more familiar foods such as grapefruit, lemon salt and traditional Salvadoran drinks and condiments.

With a focus on quality agriculture, the expo features 400 booths from nine countries and is divided into three sections: fruit and vegetables, agricultural technology and flowers. Five businesses are representing El Salvador at the show, which runs through Nov. 11, and is expected to attract more than 5,000 buyers and industry professionals.

“We expect to take advantage of platforms such as [Agricultural Week] to look for niche markets for our organic products, liquors, natural products and our gourmet coffee in order to establish long-term relations with Taiwanese suppliers,” Salvadoran Ambassador to Taiwan Marta Chang de Tsien said.

A relative of the coffee plant, the noni fruit is a mainstay of health food stores. Rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and potassium, it is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties and is traditionally used as a wellness tonic in the Pacific islands. The loroco flower carries nutty overtones and is used in many Salvadoran dishes such as pupusa, a stuffed thick tortilla. It is also packed with nutrients. While the jocote is a cashew relative, it is known for the fruit which is citrusy and tart.

These products fit in with El Salvador’s goal to take advantage of Taiwan’s growing preference for organic and natural products, Chang says, also noting the population’s fervor for gourmet coffee. The country also hopes that Taiwan takes notice of its niche markets, such as ornamental plants, seafood and fresh fruit such as hybrid coconut, Persian lime and fine flavor cocoa.

Chang says that the country’s Taiwanese partners have also been helping its products enter other Asian markets.

“Taiwanese producers and distributors have better experience with the distributions channels in Asia, the certificates needed to comply with the market and the changes on packaging, labeling and tastes of these consumers,” she says.

The Economic, Commercial and Tourism Attaches office of the Embassy of El Salvador in Taiwan is showcasing the sample products of the companies Agroindustria CULTIVAR, Invernova-Expronav, La Quiruba, Productos La Canasta, and Ron Maja.