Country Profile

Peru Country Profile

Discover more about the Peruvian market including overviews about the retail, food service, and food processing sectors. Events, resources, and more are linked throughout the profile.

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U.S. Export Opportunities in Peru

Market Overview

Euromonitor reports that over the first half of 2020, Peru’s economy contracted, as its key sectors and domestic demand were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the third and fourth quarters of 2020, the country’s economy showed signs of recovery, yet the negative impact on the labor market, investment, and public finances is likely to be long term.  Under the baseline scenario, the economy is expected to rebound and witness strong economic growth in 2021 and 2022. 

  • Peru’s annual real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 11.1% in 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Over 2021-2025, average annual real GDP growth is forecast at 4.8%, starting with growth of 8.9% in 2021.
  • Inflation slowed down to 1.8%, as unemployment rose to 11% in 2020.
  • Peru’s international trade was severely affected by the pandemic in 2020, yet the increase in metal prices mitigated the impact.
  • Investment is projected to witness a slow recovery, as the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic remains.
  • Public debt increased to 39.2% of GDP in 2020 from 27.1% in 2019, due to extra spending to support the most affected by the pandemic.

The government’s reform agenda should also gain momentum.  A crucial project will be the construction of a road between Peru’s Pacific coast and Brazil.  Peruvian officials predict that the road will add one percentage point to GDP.  Although many Peruvians are certainly poor, a thriving middle class has also developed.  These consumers are reshaping the country’s national pattern of consumption.  This emerging middle class has been consistently underestimated because the primary sources of income emanate from the informal sector.

Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru are all members of a trade agreement known as the Pacific Alliance.  The treaty has removed tariffs on 90% of their merchandise trade.  Peru is a member of the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which was formally created in March 2018.  The CPTPP replaces the abandoned Trans-Pacific Partnership, and excludes the U.S.

Peru’s population was 32.2 million in 2021 (CIA World Factbook Est.).  The country has added 5.8 million people since 2000 but the rate of growth is slowing.  Population is expected to be about 36 million in 2030.  The median age was 29.1 years in 2021 – up 6.4 years since 2000.  It should rise to 34.3 years by 2030.   More than half of all Peruvians live near the coast – most of them in Lima.  Only around 13% of the total population lives in the country’s vast region of rainforests.

USDA’s Office of Agricultural Affairs (OAA) in Lima hereinafter referred to as “Post” reports that Peru has been one of the world’s top performing economies, registering sustained high growth accompanied by low inflation.  Agriculture accounts for approximately 5% of Peru’s GDP, but employs around 28% of the population.  The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, which entered into force in February 2009, has increased bilateral trade of agricultural products from US$1.5 billion in 2009 to US$4 billion in 2020, an increase of 175%.  The United States was the second largest agricultural product supplier to Peru in 2020, accounting for 17% of market share.

Peru is a member of a number of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that have opened new markets for its exports and increased demand for imported goods.  This openness to international trade and Peru’s growing middle class has transformed domestic food market channels.  The number of commercial centers in Peru increased from seven in 2000 to 82 in 2019.

Peru is now the 3rd largest export market for U.S. consumer food products in South America.  In 2020 the total was US$295.1 million, a decrease of 8%.  Peru also ranks 3rd as a market for U.S. processed food exports.  In 2020 Peru imported US$237.4 million, a decrease of 3% from 2019.  Top processed food exports from the U.S. to Peru in 2020 included:

  • Processed/Prepared Dairy Products
  • Food Preparations & Ingredients
  • Oils
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages
  • Dog & Cat Food
  • Chocolate and Confectionery

Advantages and Challenges for U.S. Food Exporters in Peru

Advantages

  • The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) grants duty-free access to two thirds of all U.S.-origin food and agricultural products, including high-value food products.
  • An active supermarket industry that is working to increase demand for high-value food products.
  • Growth of foodservice in Lima, with a demand for affordable products.
  • Appreciation for U.S. food quality and culture.
  • Middle-class expansion

Challenges

  • Consumers prefer to buy fresh produce in traditional markets.
  • Supermarkets (main source for imported food products) account for only 25% of the retail food market share in Lima and 16% in the provinces.
  • Local food brands are appearing in the market at very low prices.
  • Stiff competition from neighboring countries.
  • Domestic producers manufacture products according to local taste preferences.

“All of Food Export’s programs were a tremendous help getting us export ready, understanding the challenges that come with international business, and learning how to navigate them.”

Katz Gluten Free

Food Export-Northeast Participant since 2018       

Interested in importing from U.S. suppliers?
Contact us to learn more.

Retail Sector

According to Euromonitor, retail sales in the packaged food market in Peru had been estimated to reach US$8.9 billion in 2020.  That represents a growth rate of 14% or almost US$1.1 billion since 2016.  The forecast for growth in this market is also promising.  By the year 2025, the retail sales in the packaged food market in Peru is expected to reach US$10.8 billion, a growth rate of 17.3%, or US$1.6 billion.  High growth products in the forecast include:

  • Ready Meals
  • Confectionery
  • Pet Food
  • Frozen Desserts
  • Sweet Biscuits, Snack Bars and Fruit Snacks
  • Baby Food
  • Baked Goods
  • Dairy

Post reports that Peru’s food retail market is adapting to the economic hardships and realities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.  FAS Lima foresees a long-term recuperation since this sector is not yet mature and has room to keep growing.  The sector’s expansion strategy targets Lima’s lower to middle income districts.  Ecommerce is expected to grow but still has logistics issues to overcome.

There are three main supermarket chains in Peru: Cencosud (Wong and Metro), Saga Fallabella (Tottus) and Supermercados Peruanos (Vivanda and Plaza Vea).  The market includes 279 conventional supermarkets and superstores, with 176 in Lima, and over 700 convenience stores in Lima.  The sector is comprised of both conventional supermarkets and traditional channels, comprised of wet markets and independent stores.  Different types of food appear to perform better in the two formats. Top products include snack foods, dairy, edible oils, confectionaries, bread, and cookies.

Food and beverages in general were considered within the priority list of products to be sold and distributed during the lockdown.  Supermarket chains worked under short schedules and at half traffic capacity.  The rest of the food retail supply, specifically convenience stores and the traditional channel, kept functioning, but a much lower capacity.  Retailers also contended with a shortage of products.  Peru’s food processors had to reduce shifts and some ultimately closed plants due to high positive COVID-19 cases among workers.

Euromonitor reports that supermarkets are set to see moderate sales growth over the forecast period (2025), supported in part by ongoing outlet expansion.  The channel is coming under increasing threat from other models, partly e-commerce which is set to see strong growth over the forecast period, but also other brick-and-mortar players.  There is a strong underlying trend for smaller, local formats like convenience stores that was momentarily knocked aside by the pandemic, but rising demand for convenience will give the trend new momentum post-pandemic.

In theory, supermarkets should benefit as they are mostly located in residential areas, but their higher average prices will be a turn off for many, especially following the sharp economic contraction of 2020.  There is still significant opportunity in the channel, but retailers may need to do more to differentiate themselves.  The channel has a good record on innovation, with self-checkout and click-and-collect orders without having to leave their cars more commonly available in 2020, and this kind of convenience-focused development will create strong advantage over the forecast period.

In 2020, COVID-19 began to reverse the strong sales growth seen in convenience stores, a comparatively new channel over the review period.  2019 saw high double figure growth in current value, underpinned by a rapid increase in outlet numbers and selling space.  The channel is perfectly aligned with rising demand for convenience, speed and non-cash payments.  However, stores are mainly located in areas of high pedestrian traffic, for example near universities, travel hubs such as bus stations or business centers. The shutdown of public transport, educational institutions and consumers working from home were possible or being put under curfew severely curtailed passing trade in the first half of the year

However, the decline in-store sales were offset to a degree by e-commerce.  Leading convenience store brands including Great Retail SAC’s Tambo+ and Primax SA’s Listo! Both use third party delivery apps to offer home delivery.  Tambo+ has a presence on both Glovo and Rappi, and Listo! is available on Glovo.  Sales recovery in the channel was also helped by the fact that consumers were prevented from driving cars in the initial phases of lockdown, benefiting pedestrian-aligned models like convenience stores.  The collapse in sales at the start of lockdown has been reversed to a great extent in the second half of the year by the gradual easing of restrictions on movement.

Best Product Prospects:

Post reports that U.S. products with high sales potential in this sector include cheese, chocolate and confectionery, food preparations, red meats, poultry meats, fruit and vegetable juice, bread, pastry and cookies, soups and broths, sauces and tree nuts.

Food Service Sector

Post reports that Peru is an internationally recognized gastronomic hub with opportunities for imported complementary food products.  Despite the difficult situation that Peru´s economy is facing amid COVID-19, the long term outlook looks favorable.  However, the food service industry will need to make adjustments due to changes in consumer´s behavior.

Peru has received several international recognitions as a cultural and gastronomic destination in the last ten years.  Instrumental to its reputation as a “foodie destination” in the region is its recognition as “World´s Leading Culinary Destination” by the World Travel Awards since 2012 and the presence of three Peruvian restaurants on the list of “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2019.”

Tourism is a strong driver of the hotel-restaurant-institutional (HRI) sector, and it represented the third largest income generator after the mining and agricultural sectors in 2019.  The tourism sector has become an excellent source of foreign exchange, and a major service sector employer.  According to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR) some 4.5 million foreigners visited Peru in 2019, generating nearly US$5 billion in revenue.  Food service makes up to 18% of total foreign tourist revenue.  Peru has over 20,000 hotels with almost a half-million beds.  High-end restaurants and hotels serve high-value U.S. consumer-oriented products (e.g., wines, cheese, beef, and pork).

Given these strong credentials the long-term outlook looks positive; however, the HRI sector is going through an unprecedented situation that requires adjustment due to changes on consumer´s behavior.  Restaurants received the government´s green light to resume activities at the end of July.  At the beginning, the reopening conditions allowed only delivery service.  Currently, restaurants can use only 50% of seating capacity among other public health measures and strict controls established by the Ministry of Health. Nevertheless, these measures along with the complexity of the sector are insufficient to rebound losses in the short term.

The best prospects for U.S.-origin food products reside in supplying high-end hotels and restaurants. Casual dining and family-style restaurants, along with coffee shops and fast food chains (averaging 8% growth over the past five years), also offer opportunities.

Best Product Prospects:

U.S. products with good sales potential in this sector include cheese, beef and offals, poultry meat, nuts and almonds, wine, sauces, pork meat and distilled spirits.

Food-Processing Sector

Peru’s food processing industry is a dynamic sector of the national economy.  The food industry in Peru accounts for almost 28% of the industrial GDP and the gross value added reached US$9.4 billion by the end of 2020.  Its growth is directly linked to the development of the food retail and food service sectors.  Food product manufacturers source both domestic and imported product ingredients.  Local processed food products cover 70% of the market demand.   

U.S.-origin food processing ingredient exports to Peru reached US$174 million in 2020, a decrease of 14.7% from 2019.  The drop is due mostly to a drop in wheat exports, which were down 56% in 2020 with respect to 2019.  However, the growth in exports of other categories reduced the loss in market share.  Key categories that contributed to growth in 2020 were: powdered milk, almonds, flour/pellets of meat, animal or vegetable fats, and enzymes.

Peru's food and beverage sector is directly linked to the development of food retail and food service sectors throughout Peru.  In the last ten years, the modern food retail channel (supermarkets and convenience stores) has expanded and gained territory among consumers.  However, the traditional channel, mainly formed by independent small groceries (bodegas) is still the main channel for the most important food processing categories such as: edible oils, dairy, confectionary goods, baked goods, pasta, and cereals.

The food retail sector grew 9% in 2020, supported by staple categories.  However, the hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) sector suffered the most and its immediate future is uncertain, however an eventual rebound is expected.  Food product manufacturers in Peru source both domestic and imported product ingredients to meet consumer demand for quality food at affordable prices.  These manufacturers are successfully tailoring products to meet different segments of consumer demand.

Growth in this sector is directly linked to the development of food retail and food service sectors throughout Peru.   In the last ten years, the modern food retail channel (supermarkets and convenience stores) have expanded and gained terrain among consumers.  However, the traditional channel, mainly formed by independent small groceries (bodegas) is still the main channel for the most important food processing categories such as: edible oils, dairy, confectionary goods, baked goods, and pasta and cereals.  Retailers use the following criteria when looking to launch new products: small packaging, quick rotation, and profit per unit.

Food product manufacturers in Peru source both domestic and imported product ingredients to meet consumer demand for quality food at affordable prices.  These manufacturers are successfully tailoring products to meet different segments of consumer demand.

Best Product Prospects:

Post reports that products with high potential in this sector include protein concentrates, flour meat meals and vegetable fats, wheat, concentrated milk, enzymes and preparations, mixtures of edible oils and fats, almonds, boneless frozen pork, mixtures of odiferous substances, vegetable saps and extracts, whey and modified whey, preparations of semola, starch flour or malt extract, hop cones and roasted malt.

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