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Plant & Soil Sciences
Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Market, Central America, El Salvador, Marketing Research, Apples
This study of the market for apples produced in Massachusetts for markets in Central America was implemented in order to identify and quantify business possibilities in that region. Apple consumption in Central America is very high and growing, with an increase of more than 100% from 2005 to 2009, from $14 million worth of apples in 2005 to $31 million in 2009. There are increased opportunities for apples from the United States to gain access to this market due to the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), enacted in 2005. This trade agreement lowers barriers and tariffs of products between the US and these countries. Apples are a very important commodity in Central America. For example, apples available for sale in El Salvador are imported from Chile, USA, Guatemala, and sometimes from Canada. In 2009, 52% of the apples imported by El Salvador were from the United States, 43% from Chile, and 4.8% from Guatemala. The majority of apples that are exported to El Salvador from the United States come from Washington State, followed by California and Oregon. During the summer of 2010, 165 consumers were surveyed and several supermarkets chains, wholesalers and local markets in El Salvador were canvassed in order to obtain information on the current apple market in El Salvador, with the goal to assess opportunities for apples from Massachusetts to enter this market. The most important attributes used by those surveyed in El Salvador when purchasing apples were quality (including taste, firmness, and size) and price. Medium and small sized apples are preferred as they are more economical for families, providing an opportunity for US growers to sell their smaller fruit that US consumer do not prefer. Delicious and gala are the varieties sold mostly. Apples are usually bought in supermarkets, fruits stalls in municipal markets, and from fruit peddlers on the street and on buses. During the Christmas holidays of 2010, another marketing survey was conducted to determine the acceptance in Central America of McIntosh apples from Massachusetts. Nearly 800 consumers were surveyed at five Wal-Mart stores in El Salvador after being given samples of McIntosh apples produced in Massachusetts. Consumers particularly liked the sweet-tart flavor, juiciness, and firmness. Due the results of these surveys, Wal-Mart Centro America Mexico expressed interest in developing a relationship with apple growers in the Northeastern United States.