Hotel, Restaurant and Food Service Sector Report

An Expert's View about Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in Costa Rica

Posted on: 31 Mar 2012

An interesting note on the food service sector in Costa Rica is that besides supplying hotels and restaurants, they also serve a significant number of ships.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 3/22/2012 GAIN Report Number: Costa Rica Food Service - Hotel Restaurant Institutional Hotel, Restaurant and Food Service Sector Report Approved By: Kelly Stange, Agricultural Attaché Prepared By: Illeana Ramirez, Marketing Specialist Report Highlights: Costa Rica?s economy continues to show healthy growth, estimated at over 10% throughout 2011, which is expected to continue into year 2012. After great efforts were made towards increasing tourism, Costa Rica is now considered a popular destination that received an accounted two million visitors during 2011 with a subsequent increased demand and opportunity for the hotel and restaurant business and U.S. food exports. Post: San Jose Executive Summary: I. Market Overview Economic Situation Tourism is one of Central America?s top areas of economic opportunity for 2009-2013, and Costa Rica?s natural beauty extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, yet its distance is barely 200 miles across, occupying only 20 thousand square miles. For such a small country, Costa Rica is one of most highly sought after tourist destinations in the region. This small piece of land includes all of the necessary components to satisfy the taste of thousands of travelers visiting each year. Costa Rica?s territorial division includes 7 provinces, which are: San José, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limón. Together they offer an attractive tourist destination that include extensive rainforests, volcanoes, rivers running between the mountains, expansive beaches and natural resources safeguarded by an organization of national parks and forest reserves. Tourism is one of the main economic sectors of Costa Rica, representing an important source of foreign currency of Costa Rica?s economy. Since 1999, tourism generates more income than the traditional crops of banana, pineapple and coffee together. The tourism sector really took off in 1987, growing from $329,000 in 1988 to a historical record of $2.196 million in 2011. In 2010, tourism contributed 5.5% of Costa Rican GDP and 21,2% of foreign currencies generated by the total exports. New foreign direct investment in Costa Rica from all countries was US$1.45 billion in 2010, US$ 1.35 billion in 2009, US$2.07 billion in 2008, US$1.9 billion in 2007, US$1.5 billion in 2006, and US$861 million in 2005. Just over half of that investment has come from the United States. The economy experienced a rebound in 2010 with a 3.6% GDP growth rate. Costa Rica enjoys the region?s highest standard of living, with a per capita income of about US$10,569, and an unemployment rate of 6.7%. Consumer price inflation is high but relatively constant at about a 10% annual rate over the last decade. The continuous immigration of American, Canadian and European retirees that move permanently to Costa Rica or live half a year in Costa Rica are contributing to growing immigration numbers. There is also a new category called medical tourism, comprised of foreigners that come to Costa Rica to receive medical treatments at reasonable prices compared to the United States. The variety of different nationalities that either visit or live in Costa Rica as tourists or temporary residents also creates the framework for a wide variety of restaurants. In Costa Rica there are restaurants offering different kinds of specialties with an ample offering of international and ethnic foods and the demand for increased variety in the market continues to grow. Statistics of tourism contributions to gross national product, as follows: International tourist arrivals 1988-2011 Ye Arrivals ar Ye Arrivals ar Ye Arrivals ar Receipts (x1000) (x1000) (x1000) USD million 1988 329 1996 781 2004 1,453 1,358 1989 376 1997 811 2005 1,679 1,570 1990 435 1998 943 2006 1,725 1,732 1991 504 1999 1,032 2007 1,973 1,974 1992 611 2000 1,088 2008 2,089 2,144 1993 684 2001 1,131 2009 1,923 2,075 1994 762 2002 1,113 2010 2,100 2,111 1995 785 2003 1,239 2011 2,196 n.a. Source: II. Market Structure Costa Rica, over the last decades, maintains a very aggressive promotional campaign to position itself as a tourist destination. Infrastructures are being improved and developed to accommodate the expected increase in visitors. There are two international airports in Costa Rica, Santamaria Airport in Alajuela and the Oduber Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste which in the Pacific coast. U.S. airlines, as American, Delta, Continental, arrive at both airports. Oduber Airport has been remodeled recently. U.S. and international hotel chains present in Costa Rica are: Marriott Costa Rica, Real InterContinental, Indigo, Country Inn, Sheraton, Radisson, Holiday Inn, Riu, Westin, Courtyard Marriott, JW Marriott, Four Seasons, Residence Inn, to mention a few. Relatively new tourism resorts are also established and being developed in the Costa Rican coasts and also the B&B/boutique hotels sector is growing rapidly. Restaurants in the San Jose Metropolitan Area are very well developed. There are no statistics as to the current number of restaurants, but due to increased tourism and international immigration, and that Costa Rica middle and high income population has sophisticated dining tastes, the selection of restaurants is ample with cuisine specialties such as: Argentine, Colombian, Chinese, Spanish, Mediterranean, International, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Seafood, Mexican. The wine sector has been growing tremendously in Costa Rica and every day new wine brands come into the supermarkets and restaurant menus. Chile and Argentina?s wines continue to be top sellers due to the price points at which they are available. There is a large number of catering service companies and food franchises such as T.G.I. Friday?s, KFC, Domino?s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Church?s, McDonald?s, Burger King, Popeye?s, Subway, Quiznos, Wendy?s, Papa John?s and, most recently, Starbucks will open its first store in San José. The institutional segment includes hospitals, school cafeterias, correctional facilities, private sector cafeterias and government institutions, which are privately owned or under concessions. An interesting note on the food service sector in Costa Rica is that besides supplying hotels and restaurants, they also serve a significant number of ships that transit by Caldera Port in Puntarenas and Limón. There is also a single company, Casa Phillips, which provides food to the airlines and is located by the Santamaría Airport. III. Market Access Costa Rica has an open economy and few market access problems. U.S. products enjoy a high quality image and are well accepted. Customs clearance is relatively fast and straightforward. Most of the import duties are being reduced in behalf of the FTA between Costa Rica and the United States. As of June 2010, Costa Rica ranked 125 out of 183 countries in the 2010 World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index. This has hampered the flow of investment and resources badly needed to repair and rebuild the country's public infrastructure, an infrastructure which has deteriorated over the years from a lack of maintenance and new investment. Infrastructure, in an overall sense (e.g., roads and bridges, water/wastewater, electricity generation, airports and ports) is in substantial need of improvement. This represents both challenges and opportunities. In many instances, deteriorated infrastructure will need to be improved if Costa Rica is to remain competitive in the regional and world economy. One of the most common market entry options is to appoint an agent or distributor or finding a local partner who can provide market knowledge and contacts. Licenses or franchises are also popular in Costa Rica. General commercial law will govern contracts or relations between vendors or suppliers and the local company, person or distributor. Distribution services are mostly governed by private agreements among the parties. Local laws also allow companies and individuals to import directly with no intervention from agents or distributors. Most Costa Rican importers are fully bilingual, and business practices in Costa Rica are very similar to those in the United States. It is advisable to have a Distributor and/or a Customs Broker with experience. The exporter should coordinate with the importer how to protect and register the product and/or trademarks. It is worth noting that price is an important factor to consider in the Costa Rican market. Even though there is a small percentage of the population more interested in quality and trend-setting goods, price is still an important factor for the great majority of the population. Well-known food service importers in Costa Rica are: BELCA DE COSTA RICA General Manager: Mr. Federico Serrano Import Manager: Martha Soto Phone: (506) 2293-4075 Fax: (506) 2239-0147 E-mail: / CIAMESA Phone: (506) 2264-5000 MERCASA / GRUPO INTECA Hellen Bogantes, New Product Develop Phone: (506) 2250-5656 Fax: (506) 2250-5781 E-mail: ? MAYCA S.A. General Manager: Mr. Jose Maroto International Sales: Ms. Johanna Porras Phone: (506) 2209-0500 x.175 E-mail: / Web: GLOBAL PARTNERS General Manager: Mr. Mario Colombo Phone: (506) 2293-3896 E-mail: DELIKA BY GOURMET IMPORTS DCR General Manager: Mr. Jurgen F. Mormels Phone: (506) 2281-2855 E-mail: Web: PRICE SMART José López, Operations Vice-President Phone: (506) 2283-4494 E-mail: Web: For further details on exporting please see our 2011 FAIRS Report IV. Competition Major competitors for U.S. products may be divided by product and/or better tariffs due to Free Trade Agreements signed with other countries such as Canada, Chile, Mexico, China, and Panama. Strong competitors for snacks and processed foods are Central America and China. For fruits and other products: Chile, Peru, and Spain. For grains and oils: Argentina, Canada, and Brazil. For meat: Nicaragua, Chile, and New Zealand. V. Best Prospects High value products offer good market opportunities in Costa Rica, especially ready-to-eat or convenience food, wholesome and healthy products. As a whole, best prospects for U.S. food exports to Costa Rica are bulk commodities such as yellow corn, rice, soybean meal, and wheat flour. Fresh fruits such as apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines and pears, organic foods, processed fruits and vegetables, such as canned mixed vegetables, mixed fruits, yellow sweet corn, peas, mushrooms, and beans are also very popular in the Costa Rican market. A list of favorite imports from the HRI sector includes: French fries; snacks, frozen or ready-to eat food, dairy foods (cheese, yogurt, butter), vegetable oil, frozen vegetables, dressings and marinades, bakery ingredients, beef, poultry, rice. As far as hotels and restaurants are concerned, San José, the capital, is well developed, but new restaurants and ideas are always welcome and generally successful. New opportunities may be found at the beaches/resort areas and smaller towns in the country side that still need to be developed and offer good prospects of growth. VI. Entry Strategy and Recommendations Appointing a local representative, distributor or commission agent may be a good option. Television and newspaper advertising are the best promotion tools for the promotion of U.S. products. E-mail marketing is also becoming increasingly popular. Trade shows, seminars and exhibitions are also very effective tools for trade promotion. Major local newspapers recommended for promotions are: ? LaNación: ? La República: ? El Financiero: VII. Contact List 1. U.S. Embassy Commercial, Agricultural and Trade-Related Contacts U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) Phone: (506) 2510-2285 Fax: (506) 2519-2097 Email: Website: Mr. Kevin Smith, Regional Agricultural Counselor (based in San Jose, Costa Rica) Ms. Kelly Stange, Regional Agricultural Attaché (based in San Jose, Costa Rica) Mr. Víctor González, Agricultural Specialist Mrs. Illeana Ramírez, Agricultural Marketing Specialist Ms. Cynthia Smith-Palliser, Agricultural Marketing Clerk U.S. Commercial Service Tel: (506) 2520-2271 Fax: (507) 317-1658 2. Public Institutions Ministerio de Salud Eng. Xinia Arias Tel: (506) 2222-5749/2257-7821 Web Site: Email: Ministerio de Comercio Exterior (Ministry of Foreign Trade) Mrs. Anabel González, Minister Ms. Leonor Obando, Advisor Tel: (506) 2299-4924 560-0661 Fax: (506) 2256-8489 Email: Web Site: www.comex. Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería Ms. Ligia Quirós, SENASA Tel: (506) 2260-86-48 Email: lquiró Web Site: 3. Private Institutions American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Ms. Catherine Reuben Tel: (506) 2220-2200 Fax: (506) 2220-2300 Email: - Web Site: Cámara Nacional de Hoteles y Restaurantes (Hotel and Restaurants National Chamber) Mr. Alejandro Madrigal, Executive Director Ms. Roxana Quirós, Assistant to the Executive Director Tel: (506) 2222-2579 / 2222-0728 / 2233-9790 / 2233-9301 Telefax: (506) 2233-2892 E-mail: ?
Posted: 31 March 2012

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