One of the major obstacles to the development of most Latin American countries has been the concentration of exports in a few agricultural commodities which have had unstable prices in world markets. Furthermore prices for these agricultural products have been declining relative to the prices of the goods imported in this region. Consequently, there have been sharp fluctuations in the foreign exchange earnings and increasing difficulty in obtaining the imports needed to sustain satisfactory rates of economic development. Many countries facing this situation are making an effort to diversify their export bases. One of the possible means of attaining diversification is through the development of an export-oriented food processing industry or sector. This possibility seems promising, due to the absolute and comparative advantages found in the production of some agricultural commodities. The purpose of this paper is to point out that there are many barriers to the development of export markets for processed food besides the traditional issues of production costs, freight costs, and import restrictions. Many of these barriers have not been properly recognized by entrepreneurs and public officials. This may account for some of the past failures in attempts to expand or initiate such export activities. The objective of this paper is to draw attention to some marketing considerations which could be useful in guiding the research needed to detect these barriers, and thus serve as a base for private decision making and government policy formation.


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