FAS Santiago reports that Chile has a modern and developed food processing and beverage industry. Food and beverage processing accounts for 3.5% of all Chile’s exports, which totaled US$12.8 billion in 2021. The food processing industry
is the second most important economic sector after mining, contributing 4.5% to the national GDP in 2020.
According to the Chilean Export Promotion Agency (ProChile), the sector employs over 368,316 workers. The main export
markets for Chilean food products are China, the United States, European Union, Japan, and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries. Chilean food processors sell their products nationally or internationally. The Foreign Investment Agency
of Chile (InvestChile) reports that 54% of Chile’s total food production is destined for the domestic market, and 46% is exported to more than 190 countries worldwide.
The Chilean food and beverage processing industry consist of more
than 98,890 food processing companies. Some large international companies use their production plants in Chile to serve other markets in Latin America. Chilean food processing companies sell 60% of all processed food products to supermarkets
and hypermarkets. A smaller share, 38%, of packaged food is sold through traditional grocery retailers such as independent small grocers or food/drink specialists. Seven food processing companies sell more than one hundred products available
throughout the country. Agrosuper, Nestlé, Carozzi, and Coca-Cola are among the one hundred largest Chilean companies, according to AmericaEconomía ranking.
According to Chilean Food Processing Companies Association (Chilealimentos
A.G.), the Chilean food industry mainly produces processed fruit and vegetables; chocolates and confectionary products; wine, beer, and drinks; beef, pork, and poultry products; potato chips and similar snacks; dairy products; frozen meals; pasta and
noodles; oils; sugar and sweeteners; pet food; breakfast cereals, and seafood.
Chilean processed foods have solid and well-positioned brands (Carozzi, Watt´s, Tresmontes Lucchetti, etc.) with high level of consumer loyalty. While
Chilean consumers have increasing concerns about health-related issues, the food processing industry still adapts to the nutritional labeling law, opening the market to products and ingredients marketed as natural.
In addition to healthy products,
many Chilean consumers can afford to buy high-end U.S. products like beef, pork, dairy products, and distilled spirits. There is intense competition among food importers seeking to maintain or enlarge their market share. U.S. food ingredients exporters
need to consider the longer freight time and higher transport costs to Chile than regional competitors. Nearby Latin American countries operate with relatively low shipping costs.
In 2021, the United States remained Chile’s third-leading
supplier of food ingredients, after Argentina and Brazil. The United States is followed by other competitors like Paraguay, Canada, China, and Peru. Chile’s top U.S. food ingredients imports were pork products, dairy, beef products,
condiments and sauces, food preparations, corn, poultry products, wheat, distilled spirits, tree nuts, bakery goods, cereals and pasta, fresh fruits, and chocolate and cocoa products.
Best Product Prospects:
FAS Santiago reports that the best prospects for U.S. exporters in the Chilean food processing sector include natural flavors, sweeteners and natural alternatives, pork meat (ex.: for Chilean sausage industry), non-fat dry milk, coconut and oats,
protein concentrate, odoriferous substances, alternative grains (ex.: quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas), super foods (chia, flaxseeds, nutritional yeast, etc.), almonds, whey and lactose, others: additives, preservatives, thickeners, oats, vegetable fats
and oils, mixed condiments, starches and enzymes.