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Somerex adds value to Peru's agricultural sector

Article - October 17, 2012
While Peru is gaining world renown for its exports of fresh vegetables and fruit – such as avocadoes and peppers – another, lesser known side of agricultural production is transforming it into an added-value sector
Somerex is a company that has been present in the agricultural sector for several decades, but 16 years ago decided to invest in research and development to add value to its raw materials so as to capitalize on the growing importance and appreciation of organic products in global markets.

The Peruvian firm’s specialty now lies in inputs for industry, such as tara gum and powder, gallic acid, rotenone and rhatany root which are used in food preservation, brewing, photography, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, among others. Somerex also manufactures final products, including antioxidants, coloring, insecticides, degreasers and cleaning products – all developed from natural sources.

“In 1996 the company began to invest in R&D. In developing products with higher added value, we lend greater economic and job stability for the workers,” explains Manuel Pardo D’Ornellas, General Manager of Somerex.

“On the other hand, we began working with various products: tara, coloring, insecticides. The reason for this was that the world market realized the importance of natural organic products. At Somerex, we began to diversify our activities in order to take advantage of Peru’s biodiversity and offer quality organic products.”

Backed by ISO certification, and with its sights set on an ISO 22000 certificate by the end of next year, Somerex has emerged as leader in its field with a reputation for innovation, quality and consistency. Indeed, the company has its own quality control labs and liaises with universities in the U.S. and Germany to develop new technologies suited to Somerex’s needs.

Furthermore, Somerex simultaneously serves as an ambassador of Peruvian products abroad while caring for and protecting farmers back home. Mr. Pardo says that the company tries to avoid middlemen and instead deal directly with growers in the area to guarantee both supply and price.

“We settle on a price that both Somerex and the farmers are happy with and we stabilize the prices over a six-month period. You have to bear in mind that we work with products like tara, whose prices fluctuate rather a lot,” says the General Manager.

Somerex is also looking into developing its own lands for the more volatile of products in order to further avoid the seasonal rise in prices and stabilize costs. This move would complement the company’s recent moves to lower production costs and improve marketing, which resulted in a huge jump in profits.

“We’ve grown 113% compared to 2010, and this year we aim to grow 118%. Our growth is based on optimizations,” says Mr. Pardo. “We’ve been in the market for 45 years and even though we’ve changed our field, our quality has remained intact. This gives the client peace of mind. For 2014, we would like to stay on track and again grow more than 100%.”