The Chilean government has thrown its weight behind a fresh drive to increase food exports from the country, with the introduction of a "from Chile" mark.

Speaking at the Chilean Embassy in Paris earlier this week (23 October), officials from ProChile, the country's economic directorate of foreign affairs, unveiled a strategy that first aims to help grow exports of nuts and dried fruits.

The category generates annual revenues in excess of US$600m and ProChile representatives said it was "very important and fundamental" to promote these products internationally. To this end, the Chilean government has developed a "prunes from Chile" and "walnuts from Chile" mark, which is being rolled out across Asian and European markets.

Pablo Montt, director of the trade commission of Chile in the EU, explained the government hopes to leverage 'brand Chile' in particular categories - such as nuts, dried fruits and wines - where Chilean heritage communicates on-trend messages to consumers.

Speaking to just-food, Montt suggested supporting the Chilean food industry was a significant plank for the government because the agri-food sector accounts for 10.3% of GDP.

Through free trade agreements and financial support to exporters, the Chilean government is fostering a growing export sector, Montt said, with food and drink exports from the country rising to $12.5bn in 2011, up 16% on 2010.

According to Montt, the next stage of development for the Chilean food industry will be a greater emphasis on value added products.

"Currently, Chile produces a lot of ingredients that are then used in food production. We must now convince manufacturers to invest in developing value added products... We do have some brands: Cencosud in supermarkets, which is a brand all through Latin America, Cousino Macul in wine... But they have been working on developing that for 20 years," Montt said.

One example of how Chilean manufacturers are attempting to increase their share of value-added food sales is the introduction of a ham from Wagyu in Pategonia, which is a distinctly Chilean product. With the support of ProChile, Montt said the government hopes to encourage the launch of similar premium, high-value products from Chile into export markets.