Ecuador has announced the launch of an online business-to-business (B2B) marketplace.
According to Produce Business UK, e-Ecuador — called the “Ecuadorean Alibaba” — enables buyers from around the world to locate and connect with more than 1,000 suppliers of the country’s products and fresh produce. Almost a quarter of those vendors are fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers.
The platform’s sponsor, PRO ECUADOR, noted that the marketplace allows for faster ways to meet the needs of buyers, as well as boost trade.
“The added value is clear,” said Juan Carlos Yépez, the trade commissioner of Ecuador at PRO ECUADOR. “e-Ecuador gives buyers direct and transparent access to suppliers in a very quick way that has no cost.”
Currently, more than 300 international buyers have registered. Access to the platform is free of charge for both buyers and suppliers, but both sides must be approved and validated by PRO ECUADOR before registering.
“We’d love to close the year  by reaching 400 buyers. But the idea is not to have a huge number of buyers. It’s about the quality, not the quantity. We take very seriously the validation and approval step,” said Yépez.
One of the first companies to sign on to the platform was the U.K.’s SH Pratt, one of Europe’s leading banana importers and ripeners.
“This tool is a fast way to find new suppliers, with the right certifications, and it’s very easy to use,” said João Barata, Phead of procurement at SH Pratt.
There are also plans to allow shipping lines, cargo carriers and forwarding companies to register on the platform in the future, which will enable suppliers and buyers to request logistics quotations and arrange for transportation of products.
“Ecuador is excited; we’re on the right track,” said Yépez. “PRO ECUADOR is expecting more growers to register, and in terms of fresh fruit and veg, I think there’s a good representation of the industry already.”