Global Opportunities

Chile, the Latin American hub for food processing & distribution

With an annual turnover of 34 billion dollars, the Chilean food industry is one of the country's most important production sites. The Chilean food industry offers business opportunities for Swiss companies, that want to grow internationally. 

Production of beer in a factory

Why Chile

The Chilean food industry is one of the most productive production sites in the country with annual sales of $34 billion. Healthy foods, gourmet products, prepared foods, and ready-made meals are products that show huge potential for growth in the Chilean market. More than 100 multinationals like Ferrero, Naturex, Dianafood, Cargill, Beneo, etc, which have chosen Chile during the last decades, prove it.

According to the Chilean Central Bank, the food manufacturing industry (food, drinks, and tobacco) represented 4.9 percent of overall GDP in 2017, with industry value rising by 4.4 percent over 2016. Chilealimentos, the Chilean association of food processing companies, reports that the Chilean food industry is the country's most important production activity with an annual turnover of 34 billion dollars.

Furthermore, 54 percent of total food production is destined to the domestic market and 46 percent is exported to more than 190 countries worldwide. According to Chilean Central Bank data, food exports totaled $16.1 billion in 2017. InvestChile reports that 76 percent of the food industry consists of fresh production (agriculture) and 23 percent is made up of processed foods (food processors).

Food Processing Market

The Chilean government is now supporting the food industry because its strategic goal is to diversify the economy and move beyond primary agricultural exports to more complex, value-adding products.

According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service these four product categories have good sales potential:

Natural Healthy Products: In Chile, naturally healthy products without artificial ingredients are strongly promoted, further emphasizing this trend. Product variety in this niche is expected to increase as naturally healthy products continue to enter the Chilean mass market over the coming years.

Ready Meals: Moreover, ready meals are still only a niche regarding value and volume, but lifestyle trends as well as economic forecasts show great potential for these products. In particularly, healthy prepared foods with few preservers, additives and other specialized food ingredients have good sales potential. The target customer for these products is often young people with a work schedule and little time. Moreover, these products are attractive to people living on their own or with little cooking experience.

Premium Cheese: High quality cheeses are becoming increasingly popular and widespread in Chile, which is reflected in developments of imports over the past years. Cheese imports from Argentina and New Zealand have dropped whereas imports from the European Union (France, Germany and Netherlands) have increased.

Craft Beer: Craft beer in Chile accounted for only 1.5 percent of the overall segment of beer in 2017, but its popularity is increasing. Starting off amongst beer enthusiasts, the trend is spreading to the middle-and upper-income households in Chile, as well as food service establishments in affluent parts of cities. The leading Chilean craft beer brand is Kross, however, imported beers are very popular in Chile.