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Time in Chile

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Chile is a country renowned for its tremendous length bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the terrific Andes on the other. Its width can be best described by overheard words of an American tourist “this country ain’t no wider than a strip of bacon”. I have had the pleasure of calling this place home for the last three months whilst completing a graduate placement with International Procurement and Logistics (IPL Ltd.). Majority of my time has been spent in the country’s capital, the fast paced metropolis of Santiago. While joining the commuter traffic, you can quite easily see why this city leads the way in providing economical stability for the continent. A large contribution to this, and the reason I am here, is Chile’s agriculture, particularly its fresh produce. The country’s diversity in climate and geography enables the successful production of a good proportion of the UKs imported fruit; for IPL the main concentration is on grapes, top fruit and stone fruit amongst a large range of fresh produce that Chile grows for commercial export.

Although the time has not been long enough to become fluent in Chilean Spanish, the experience has been invaluable in understanding the food industry from another perspective and culture. The majority of my time has been spent supporting the logistic function of container coordination, although I have also been able to support the Technical team based here. For an importer receiving Chilean produce, the biggest challenge is the selection of material that can survive the 30 day transit to the UK and then arrive on the supermarket shelf as if it was picked the day before. Therefore the technical specification and approval is paramount. The produce also needs to be aligned with price point demanded by the UK consumer. The IPL and ASDA’s combined model massively contributes to this success, in regards to being a direct link between the growers and consumers. The success of this business also results from having an office of local representatives, based here to work alongside growers in order to achieve our high demands and feedback the position and opinion of the UK market and consumers.

The demand of out of season fresh produce by UK consumers pushes businesses like IPL to broaden its horizons regarding areas of production and possible markets to source. Although there are clear environmental impacts of imported produce that are widely debated, the opportunity of increasingly globalised markets and businesses are of great value for someone like me.

This is my second year after graduating and I sit on the edge of a large world of opportunity. Initially before graduating I couldn’t see myself attending a graduate scheme, my immature pride had me scoffing at schemes as an over-protective pre-school for industry professionals, but I aspired to get a  ‘real job’. Yet I now reflect on it since graduating and can value the time, awareness and maturity I have received. I would encourage any recent graduates or businesses that can offer graduate schemes, particularly involving international placements or secondments to their colleagues, to go for it. The three month experience has not only broadened my mind and experiences, but helped me to understand the pressures and constraints on an international supply chain. I strongly believe the skills I have gained from this short time will not only support my company on return to the UK, but will stay with me throughout my career.

 

Michael Rudge, IPL Ltd



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