Yucca Chips are also gaining more consumer demand

Ecuadorian organic plantain and yucca specialist Platayuc is taking part in the launch of a major PR and marketing campaign in the EU, aimed at increasing consumer awareness of Ecuadorian export products.

Part of a government initiative PRO ECUADOR – The Trade and Investment Promotion Institute of of Ecuador and FEDERPOR - The Ecuadorian Exporters Federation with financial support of CAF – the Development Bank of Latin America, the campaign will support the company’s efforts to boost its business in Germany, the largest market for organic foods in Europe, and second in the world.

Among 150 companies the Guayaquil-based firm was selected as one of 10 leading exporters supported to increase promotion activities to obtain more visibility and boost sales.

Vinicio Reyes Ramos, co-founder Platayuc Cia. Ltda, first organic plantain chips in the market

The initiative follows Ecuador officially becoming a signatory to the European Union’s (EU) Andean Community Trade Agreement – a deal previously signed with Colombia and Peru in 2013, which is expected to open markets for Ecuadorian goods and is likely to save the countries some half a billion euros in import duties alone.

The multi-party agreement with the EU opens a 500m inhabitant-market that consumes a lot of organic products, especially Germany, France and Italy. Ecuador is already seen in Europe as a reliable supplier of organic foods such as chocolate, coffee, banana and shrimp.

Platayuc was selected by the country’s Exterior Ministry to receive non-refundable financial backing to boost export promotional activities. "The PR campaign will include advertising ‘spots’ first in cinemas in Berlin and Hamburg to explain what plantain is to German consumers, as it is not a well-known product in the country,” said Reyes.

Daughter Gaby Reyes Argudo next to a display of Platayuc at Whole Foods Market, Florida

Although the US remains Ecuador’s largest single export market, the lack of an export treaty with the large North American nation had led to the ongoing uncertainty of Ecuador having to renegotiate import tariffs with it every year. Trade with the EU could potentially be more attractive. With the coming into force of the Andean Trade Agreement, Reyes expects exports to increase by as much as 50%.

According to figures from export consultant Index Box, Ecuador exported some 6m tons of plantains in 2014 worth an estimated US$2,62bn, up 12% from the previous year. The country’s main overseas markets for plantain are the Russian Federation, the US, Germany, Turkey, and Belgium, which combined account for 61% of Ecuador’s total plantain exports.

Preparing a shipment of Platayuc chips to Dubai

As a company, Platayuc began life some 11 years ago as a specialist in prepared and fried plantain and yucca from which the firm’s name is derived. Its decision to invest in a plant producing organic plantain and yuca chips five years ago has since paid dividends, with Platayuc maintaining a significant presence in the US – including in Whole Foods Markets stores – Canada, Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy) and the UAE. Reyes expects Mexico to be added to that list shortly, revealing that Platayuc is close to finalizing negotiations with a major retailer to stock its plantain and yuca products, while entry to the Spanish market could also crystallize this year.

Investing in target advertising, attractive packaging, Quick Response and a nutritious and tasty product with organic and other certifications is paving the road to success for Platayuc.