Importing into Canada – Exploring the Costa Rican produce industry

Written by: Michelle Corriols, Director Trade Promotion Office Costa Rica at PROCOMER | May 2022

Procomer (The Export Promotion Agency of Costa Rica), has a trade promotion office in Toronto, it was established in 2003 when Canada and Costa Rica signed a Free Trade Agreement.

And you may be asking yourself, what does a Trade Promotion Office do?  Well, we can become your business ally, we facilitate connections between Canadian buyers and Costa Rican vendors, we will connect you with reliable growers and exporters from Costa Rica, we have a team on the ground that works very closely with them, provides advisory and training opportunities. We provide you with market and business climate information. Our goal is to make your sourcing process easier.

So, let’s start with some general information about importing produce from Costa Rica:

  • Our offer

In 2021, fresh produce represented 17% of the total exports of goods from Costa Rica. Thanks to our tropical weather and the richness of our soil, Costa Rica grows a broad variety of fruits and vegetables. Some of the fruits are: pineapple, banana, papaya, mangoes, rambutan, dragon fruit, coconut, watermelon and melons, in the vegetables category our main items are: cassava, eddoes, ginger, turmeric, malanga, chayote, carrots and cabbages.

Costa Rica is well know for the quality of its products, thanks to that Costa Rica is a leader exporter of golden pineapple to the world  and is the number one supplier of cassava to United States  and Canada.

  • Logistics

Costa Rica has two main ports: Puerto Limon in the Atlantic coast and Puerto Caldera in the Pacific Coast. However, most of the exports to Canada go through Puerto Limon.

About 99% of the shipments come by the sea and the rest by air. Main point of entry in Canada are Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Laval. However, in general produce cargo from Costa Rica will arrive first to a port in the United States (Wilmington, Philadelphia, Gloucester).

The most common incoterms used by the Costa Rican companies when negotiating contracts are Ex WORKS (EXW) or Freight on board (FOB), therefore  is important for you as an importer to establish direct contact with the shipping lines and freight forwarders to get good deals and secure spaces.

  • Our companies

There are several advantages of trading with Costa Rican companies.  First, Costa Rica is a political and economical stable country, with one of the oldest democracies in America. The country has a proven track record serving the most demanding markets with consistency and quality.

In the year 2021, United States,  Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy and Spain were the main destinations for Costa Rican produce exports.

Another advantage when dealing with Costa Rican companies is that despite of their size they care about their people and about the environment, they are interested in establishing long term business relationships.

  • Certifications

Costa Rica’s fresh produce offer is harvested under the highest international standards and with high commitment to environmental well-being. Most of the exporting companies have the global food safety certifications required in the international markets.

Costa Rica has and organic equivalence recognition with Canada, that means that organic fruits and vegetables produced and processed in Costa Rica under an organic certification program are deemed equivalent to such products that have been produced and process accordance with the Canadian Organic Products regulation.

Canada  has become one of the most dynamic exports destinations for the Costa Rican fresh produce industry (average annual growth of 21%),  give yourself the opportunity to explore the Costa Rican offer and let us help you along the journey.