Promising growth for Peru and Bolivia’s quinoa exports in 2024. 

In 2024, quinoa exports from Peru and Bolivia have shown promising growth. Peru remains the leading exporter, while Bolivia follows closely. As of the first quarter of 2024, Bolivia’s quinoa exports increased by 56.6%, valued at USD 16.5 million, indicating strong market performance.

For the rest of the year, both countries are expected to maintain steady growth, with rising demand from international markets contributing to this positive trend. As the COO and co-founder of Agrofino reported, “2023 was a bad year for quinoa, as the El Niño phenomenon took its toll. This year we are expecting a better harvest, and so far it has been good.”  

Regarding the price of quinoa, the former vice-minister of internal trade for Bolivia relayed, “The quinoa market, mainly because of prices, is a very vulnerable market. There is a lot of variability in international prices, and this is due not only to the typical characteristics of an agricultural good, but also to the specific characteristics of quinoa.” Despite the volatility, the former vice-minister and the market expect prices to increase from the two-year slump in which they have found themselves.  

“The quinoa market, mainly because of prices, is a very vulnerable market.”

Former vice-minister of internal trade and exports, Bolivia 

Peruvian and Bolivian quinoa exporters are dealing with market volatility, sustainability issues and economic reliance on a single crop. “Peru’s challenge this year is to be able to sell organic quinoa to the EU again.” The COO of Agrofino continued, “For technical reasons due to the presence of a compound (Fosetyl) we have been banned. This restriction of Fosetyl (found naturally in Andean soils) has caused Peru’s export of organic quinoa to the EU to fall by 80%.”  

In Bolivia, however, the biggest challenge is to increase their yields per hectare, which are almost half of Peru’s. Bolivia lacks the free trade agreements that Peru has and therefore it does not have such easy access to a wide array of markets. “At the beginning of last year, it was at USD 2000 per tonne. By the end of the year, it had risen to 3500 for organic quinoa.” Bolivia’s former vice-minister of internal trade and exports expanded, “This has helped Bolivia a lot. The producers have had a great year. But this price increase was due to the drop in exports from Peru, mainly because of problems they had with certification.” 

The biggest international markets for quinoa are the United States and the European Union, alongside growing interest in Asia. “Looking more specifically, Bolivia exports half of its production to the USA and then to several European countries (Germany, Holland, France) and China,” informed former internal trade vice-minister. “Peru also exports to the USA (almost 50%) of its production, but then to Canada and the UK, and then to a lesser extent to a few European countries.”

“Looking more specifically, Bolivia exports half of its production to the USA and then to several European countries and China.”

Former vice-minister of internal trade and exports, Bolivia 

Consumption has evolved with increasing demand for healthy and gluten-free foods, especially amongst the younger, more health-conscious generations and “it is seen as a gourmet product,” remarked the former vice-minister. 

The newly fashionable ‘superfood’ is an increasingly appealing commodity for large multinational companies in the food sector due to its nutritional benefits and versatility in various food products. As the former Bolivian vice-president noted, “There are two types of companies that buy. The retailers, who pay for quality, and the industrialists who are looking for cheap products, usually buy from India…In both cases demand is growing every year.” 

In Peru and Bolivia, the quinoa industry will likely focus on increasing local production and exploring diverse growing areas to tackle rising logistics costs and container shortages. The former vice-minister underlined that quinoa “is a very important product for thousands of poor families in the highlands.”

Innovations in sustainable farming, such as drought-resistant quinoa varieties, will be essential to address water scarcity. “Quinoa is grown with little water. In Peru and Bolivia, which account for 70% of world production, rainwater is used and fields that are cultivated out of season use technified irrigation.” The COO of Agrofino also happily acknowledged, “Logistics are slowly settling down to pre-pandemic levels. I am not worried about the future of the industry.”

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