Chile is characterized by a free, dynamic and highly competitive market and is one of the pillars of Latin America. With a GDP per capita of $16,965, the country best known for its copper mining relies on importation in many sectors, food being a major one. The main imported products are meat, such as beef and poultry, dairy, snack foods and some organic products.
Chile is considered one of the most developed countries in Latin America, in a group with Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. With an economy based on various heavy industries, Chile is placed 47th in a top of the importers of the world.
Healthy foods, gourmet products, prepared foods and ready-made meals are products that show huge potential for growth in the Chilean market. More and more Chileans prefer the convenience of easy and quick to prepare meals once they return from their daily jobs and traditional home cooking is declining, like in other Western countries.
Chilean imports amounted to US$64.1 billion in 2019, up by 2.8% since 2015 but down by -13.6% from 2018.
North American trade partners supplied 23.8% of the import goods purchased by Chile while 22.7% worth of goods originated from Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. 34.1% of Chile’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from Asian countries, mainly from China.
The United States is Chile’s second main supplier of agricultural and food ingredients after Argentina (US$195,871,429).
A major advantage for U.S. companies is the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries and the elimination of all tariffs 5 years ago, which marked a significant growth of the exports from the U.S. to Chile.
Meat: Beef vs. Poultry & Pork
Chileans are experiencing a transition in their eating habits, from the traditional consumption of beef towards poultry and pork.
In 2019, US$1.56 billion were imported only for these categories and in 2018, the processed meat imports to Chile amounted to 1.81 million kg. A major poultry supplier is the U.S., with US$107 million.
Also, the U.S. was Chile’s most important import trading partner of pork in 2017, with 43% of the product’s imports coming from there and a value of US$84 million. In that year, Chile’s second most important import trading partner for the this product category was Brazil, with 32% of imports share.
For beef, Argentina is the major supplier, with US$179.13 million, followed by the U.S., with US$179.13 million.
In 2019 Chile imported US$292.91 million worth of dairy products, with cheese being the top import.
As part of the gourmet food revolution, high quality cheese is becoming increasingly popular and widespread in Chile, which is reflected in rising imports over the past years. Chilean food importers and distributors lowered imports from Argentina and New Zealand and gravitated more towards the European Union (France, Germany and Netherlands).
Again, the U.S. was the major supplier of cheese, with 21% of the product’s imports, followed by the Netherlands, with 18% of imports share and Germany.
Health Foods, Organic Products
Following global trends that have been shaping higher income countries for several years, Chileans also have an increasing concern for their health and wellness and demand for healthy food products continues to grow. Lower sugar and fat snacks are an example.
The U.S. is a major supplier of organic foods, mostly snacks and premium products. U.S. products are perceived to be of high quality, safe and reliable. Chileans are also very brand oriented which means that well known brands that do well worldwide will most likely also find success here. The food importers and distributors from Chile will also be far more open to major brands because the costs of marketing, as well as the risk drops dramatically.
Other important product categories imported by Chile are cereals: wheat, maze, sauces, mixed condiments and bakery products.
Three food importers from Chile:
- Anson Trading
Address: Rio Refugio 9641, Santiago
- Distribuidora Las Palmas
Address:Av. Joaquín Rodríguez 2170, Macul
- Nama Internacional
Address: Av. Providencia 2370 of. 34, Santiago
To get access to a list of more active food importers from Chile, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.