Peruvian grower Alfredo Letts: ‘We could do with some competition’

One of the exhibitors that really stood out at IFTF in Vijfhuizen was Roots Peru. They grow seventeen different types of flowers for exports, on 100 hectares. Alfredo Letts: “We try to differentiate ourselves from Colombia and Ecuador.”

Roots Peru had exhibited at IFTF once before. After several years of absence, they were back in Vijfhuizen with the aim of increasing their sales to Europe, explained Alfredo Letts. He’s the director of the Peruvian farm that his father started more than thirty years ago. Over the course of those years, Roots Peru developed into a large company. Unique in Peru, according to Letts. He said that Roots Peru accounts for 60% of the Peruvian flower export value.

Letts explained that the conditions in Peru really suit flower cultivation. There are a number of different climate zones in the jungle, desert and highlands. Three of Roots Peru’s farms are set in the highlands. The fourth farm is in the desert. “All our flowers are grown outdoors. We don’t get much rain in the highlands, the days are warm and the nights are cold. No need for greenhouses.”

With their assortment, Roots Peru tries to differentiate itself from Colombian and Ecuadorian growers. Those countries are well known for their roses, cultivated in the high-altitude areas. That has never been an option for Roots Peru. Carnation is also big in Colombia and Ecuador. Another flower that the Peruvian company doesn’t want to compete with. Instead, they look for products with which they can differentiate themselves from their South American colleagues. Their assortment includes sunflower, achillea, anigozanthos, wax flower, liatris, delphinium, ammi, leucospermum, limonium, gypsophila, leucadendron, protea, aster and alstroemeria.

Roots Peru’s main distribution markets are the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. Arranging air cargo for fresh produce from Peru to other countries isn’t a problem. Peru produces lots of fresh produce. Letts mentioned asparagus, avocado and blueberries. He would like to increase his flower sales to Europe and the Middle East.

Letts isn’t worried about investors starting new flower farms in Peru. In fact, he’s hoping they will. “We could do with some competition.” He has noticed that more and more Peruvian growers are starting small-scale nurseries. But they only produce for the local market and their quality isn’t always great.

Letts himself said he only wants top quality and he collaborates with breeders from for example Japan, Israel and the Netherlands. We try new varieties each year, we want to keep innovating all the time. They opened their fourth farm in the desert five years ago. That’s where they grow for example their wax flower, limonium and anigozanthos. Roots Peru still has potential for further growth. Letts: “We’ve got 217 ha of land in total.”



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