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San Gabriel to boost exports

Strong demand for limes in Europe is reportedly helping drive production levels upwards at leading Mexican lime exporter San Gabriel.


Mexican limes specialist San Gabriel has been producing fruit for export to Europe and the US for the past 20 years, but it is probably fair to say that the past 12 months have comprised one of the most successful periods in the company history. Strong demand for limes means that the firm has been able to invest in increasing both production and improving its facilities, with an eye on boosting yet further its export volumes.

San Gabriel limes

Based in the town of Martinez de La Torre, in Mexico’s Caribbean coastal state of Vera Cruz, San Gabriel produces some 400ha of Persian limes, between late April-early May through to December every year, only pausing when the Brazilian lime season begins in January.

According to Pedro Rodrigues, Managing Director of the company’s European subsidiary San Gabriel UK, around 70% of the firm’s annual production is exported to the US, with a further 25 shipped to Europe and about 5% sent to Japan by air.

However, Mr. Rodrigues says San Gabriel is particularly focused on developing its European business and to this end recently established a UK office to drive sales in both the Uk and the Continent still further.

Currently, San Gabriel UK’s managing director says that Mexican parent company sends four to five containers of limes into the UK every week, while a further five or six container-loads are shipped to the Netherlands for distribution to other major markets, such as France and Spain.

In total Mr. Rodrigues says the firm expects to send 300 containers of fruit to Europe by the close of 2010, which compares favourably with the last year’s 170 containers.

The reason for this anticipated increase, he says, is that San Gabriel has significantly increased its production this season compared with the last campaign, with volumes expected to rise by 20 per cent this year has new trees come into production.

This increase in production, Mr. Rodrigues continues, is being supported by a major investment in San Gabriel’s facilities.

San Gabriel packhouse

The company has extended the size of its packhouse from 1,000m2 to 3.000m2, updating its selection processes so that the sizing of the fruit is now carried out automatically.

Over the 12 months ahead, Mr. Rodrigues says San Gabriel has plans to install new machinery and extend its packhouse storage capacity still further.

This will enable the company to cope with an anticipated further increase in volumes during the next two years as more new trees come into production.

If there is a challenge for San Gabriel among these positive developments, Mr. Rodrigues says it has come in the form of a less favourable euro to US dollar exchange rate, which he says has proved to be problematic. However, how this situation develops over the coming 12 months remains to be seen.

For the year ahead, MR. Rodrigues says that San Gabriel will focus much of its European efforts on developing its new UK-based subsidiary, which he says will aim ti supply its clients with much more than merely limes.

The European subsidiary, he reveals, is also looking to source products such as mangoes from Ecuador and pineapples from Costa Rica for supply into the market.

A side from this, Mr. Rodrigues says San Gabriel will continue to concentrate on developing further its core lime business, increasing both production levels and export shipments to markets old and new in Europe and beyond: work which it will strengthen through an advertising campaign.

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