Post Archives

It’s That Time of Year Again!

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Here at the CACC we are busy editing and perfecting this year’s Membership Directory and Business Guide. Our unique directory allows us to better serve, you, our members by providing a comprehensive collection of information and data relevant to the Chilean-Philadelphia professional relationship.

We hope you all are as excited as we are about this year’s directory!



Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

The Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with 11 of Philadelphia’s International chambers and organizations, hosted the Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception on Thursday, July 14, 2016, as Philly’s finest headed to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)for an evening full of networking.

Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

Guests enjoyed elegant hors d’oeuvresand cocktails and admired the modern artwork on display before being escorted into PAFA’s spacious Annenberg Gallery for brief remarks. Robert Palaima, President and Chairman of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the program by welcoming everyone to the 6th edition of the Summer International Business Networking Reception.  Elizabeth Racheva, Vice President of Major Gifts of PAFA, then gave a short address to guests, briefing the remarkable history of PAFA and reminding everyone of the artistic power residing in Philadelphia.

Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

Harold Epps, the City of Philadelphia’s Director of Commerce, was this year’s keynote speaker. A professional with 30 years of corporate experience, Epps acutely described Philadelphia’s position in the international market, touching on some of the city’s anticipated developments, including the installation of new ports and Philadelphia’s Export Plan. He spoke of untapped potential within Philadelphia and encouraged the international business community to unite together, stressing that “collaboration is key.”

Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

The program closed with a raffle of exciting prizes including a Chilean Carmenere, a French Rose, a PAFA membership, club level seats to a Philadelphia Union match, tickets to the Irish American Business Chamber Ambassador’s Awards Luncheon, and a golf certificate for NACC Philadelphia’s Annual Golf Outing.

Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

Presenting Partners of the Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception included: the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, French-American Chamber of Commerce, German American Chamber of Commerce, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Irish American Business Chamber & Network, Inc., Italy-America Business Council and Network, Mid-Atlantic – Eurasia Business Council, Norwegian- American Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia Israel Chamber of Commerce, and Select Greater Philadelphia.

Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

The event would not have been possible without the generous support of the evening’s Corporate Sponsors, RPS/ Royal Fumigation and Saint Joseph’s University- Erivan K. Haub School of Business.

Thank you to all partners, sponsors, and guests who made the Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception an undisputed success once again.

Summer 2016 International Business Networking Reception

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile – April 27, 2016

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile
Wine Tasting and Dinner
April 27, 2016
Hotel du Pont
Wilmington, DE

On Wednesday, April 27th, the Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce (CACC) hosted the 11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile Wine Tasting and Dinner, an evening full of delicious Chilean food and wine. The night began with a reception and Chilean wine tasting before everyone was escorted into the Hotel du Pont’s Gold Ballroom for dinner and the award ceremony.

CACC President Robert Palaima opened the evening’s program with a warm welcome, thanking all attendees for their continued support of the Chamber and recognizing special guests in attendance before introducing Presenting Sponsor, Leo Holt of Holt Logistics to the stage. Holt began his introduction to the Chilean Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Juan Gabriel Valdes, by accrediting him for his great work in the face of the difficult Chilean season. He accredited Ambassador Valdes for “opening the window” to Chile as a major partner and gateway for growth along the Delaware River.

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

Ambassador Valdes approached the stage with gratitude and pride in the Philadelphia-Chile relationship; he had just been visiting Philadelphia a few weeks prior and saw firsthand the region’s appreciation for the strong bond. Ambassador Valdes informed the audience that the Delaware and Philadelphia ports receive more than half of Chile’s fresh food exports and that the United States is Chile’s second largest trade partner.  He closed by emphasizing the importance of enhancing the relationship by not just quantity, but also quality, and invited everyone to participate in the upcoming Chile Week to be held in Philadelphia, New York and Miami in October 2016.

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

Guests enjoyed a delicious dinner of fresh Chilean salmon provided by Agrosuper USA while listening to festive live music.  After dessert, the program continued with Presenting Sponsor, Anne Bookout of Royal Fumigation, who remarked how proud her company is to continually support the Chamber’s mission and the annual Experience the Taste of Chile event.  Benjamin Leavenworth, Honorary Consul of Chile, mirrored Bookout’s praise of the Chamber and also described his appreciation for the support of APHIS, an agency which protects consumers while simultaneously guiding the powerful relationship between Chile and Philadelphia which ultimately strengthens the alliance. Leavenworth noted that the strong relationship between Greater Philadelphia and Chile was demonstrated through the recent visit from a Chilean Senatorial Delegation, led by Senator Garcia-Huidobro of the VI Region.

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

Following Leavenworth, Delaware’s Secretary of State, Jeffrey Bullock, took the stage and recounted the wonderful people, culture and geography of Chile after his recent and first trip to the country before welcoming to the podium Visionary Sponsor Miriam Borja-Fisher of Western Fumigation. In order to properly credit the USDA APHIS PPQ, Borja-Fisher spoke of the inauguration of CACC’s Visionary Award in 2012 to recognize individuals and organizations for their outstanding work in building resilient international trade relationships between Chilean and US partners.  She noted a great appreciation for the comprehensive work of APHIS, emphasizing its close alignment with the Chamber’s mission, and officially presented the 2016 Visionary Award to Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator, on behalf of the USDA APHIS PPQ. El-Lissy accepted the award with vivacity and took the chance to apprize his colleagues present that evening. He said that part of the mission of their work was to facilitate the safe trade of commodities coming to the United States which ensures delicious, fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables year round. El-Lissy recognized the companies, importers, and vessels for their partnership commitment and understanding of market change on business and other government regulations. He ended his remarks with acknowledgement of the Chamber for the growth of this cohesive relationship to reach a shared mission.

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

U.S. Senator Chris Coons graciously stopped by the 11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile to share in the celebration.  The Senator emphasized the importance of job creation in the region, much of which he accredits to trade activity with Chile.

Following the close of remarks, Brisa Carmenere and a Porta Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon were raffled off to lucky guests.  Robert Palaima then closed the event and invited all guests to take a ProChile gift bag on their way out.

11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

The CACC would like to extend a special thank you to all of the sponsoring companies and attendees of this esteemed event, and also to Mauricio Banchieri and ProChile NY for providing gift bags and facilitating the fresh Chilean Salmon for the evening.  ¡Muchas gracias!

For more photos from the 11th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile, please visit our Flickr Page.

Interview with CACCGP Board Member Benjamin Leavenworth

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Leavenworth Applies Worldly Awareness in Advancing Chile-Delaware River Trade

By: Scott Abott | American Journal of Transportation: Issue #662| March 21, 2016
Armed with lessons learned a quarter of a century ago in the temperature-challenged Chilean ice fields, Benjamin Leavenworth is heating up temperature-controlled commerce between Chile and ports of the Delaware River.
Son of a Mexico-based Campbell Soup Co. executive and grandson of Switzerland’s top Philadelphia diplomat, Leavenworth says he is living his dream while serving as honorary consul of Chile, as a board member of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and as chief relationship officer and partner of Afina International LLC, a Philly-based finance and investment firm.

And the family’s multicultural tradition is continuing with Leavenworth’s twin 1-year-old daughters, as he shares – along with plenty of insights into time-honored trade – in an interview with the American Journal of Transportation.

How important to Chile is logistically sound exportation of temperature-controlled commodities to the United States, in particular to Delaware River ports?

It’s absolutely fundamental to our business in Chile. If it did not exist and if it was not of the quality that the Delaware River ports today offer, frankly, I don’t think the business could exist in the first place.

Chile was one of the pioneering countries in massifying counterseasonal exports of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the only way you can send a cargo ship, either reefer or refrigerated containers, the 5,000 or so miles to North America is you have to have great temperature-controlled facilities. And the Delaware River ports do this better than anyone in the United States.

With expanding pilot programs for bringing South American produce into ports south of the long-established 39th parallel demarcation, do Delaware River ports continue to offer advantages for handling this trade?

Absolutely. In business and in this industry, it’s easy to promise a lot, but it’s very hard to deliver. When you don’t deliver, the produce gets ruined.

The reason the Delaware River ports will continue and should be the primary destination for this produce is because it is not just that you can offer a schedule to offload produce.

It is a complete ecosystem which this region pioneered, and it is not just because they have great refrigerated warehousing. It’s because they have workers who have been doing this for several generations. It’s because they work hand-in-hand with the inspection authorities. And what they’ve crafted is a perfect and seamless machine that is very, very hard to replicate.

In addition to the mechanics is the spirit behind it. I have not seen this elsewhere. The spirit is that the families who work the ports, the operators, all see this as their mission.

I think that it’s going to be very hard for other ports to replicate this, because I don’t see how you buy this culture. In the case of the Delaware River ports, they’ve grown this over more than 40 years.

Noting your own experiences with importation of Chilean wine and grass-fed beef as examples, what commodities besides fruits play key roles in Chile’s U.S. trade, and what supply chain challenges are posed?

There are other fresh products that Chile exports and that are significant, many of which at this time we don’t see coming through the Delaware River port region.

Probably the largest and most-known is fresh and frozen salmon. Chile is the second-largest producer of salmon in the world [behind only Norway], and the U.S. market is important.

What we see coming from Chile, besides the mineral commodities and metals like copper, are, in order of importance, fruits, with table grapes leading the charge, then berries and so on. Then salmon is an important export to the U.S., followed by things like bulk fruit juices, dried fruits and nuts. We’re going to see more and more nuts coming out of Chile as there is greater and greater demand that is hard to fulfill just out of our U.S. growers.

Among things kind of up-and-coming is olive oil. Chile has become a significant player in producing truly world-class olive oil. And of course you’ve got the famous wine, which is now fairly established and primarily on the East Coast comes through New York ports.

There are budding projects to export produce like peppers and garlic and onions. There is growing interest in Chile, particularly coming out of the Sixth Region [or Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins Region, south of Valparaiso and Santiago, centered around Rancagua and San Fernando], to create an industry to export non-fruit produce to the Delaware River region.

In the role you have held for more than a decade as Chile’s honorary consul in Philadelphia, as well as in your positions as chief relationship officer and partner of Afina International Advisors S.A., plus longtime involvement on such boards as the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, how are you engaged in advancing Chile-U.S. commerce?

The three are different hats.

As Chile’s consul, wherein I was appointed by the president of Chile [Ricardo Lagos Escobar, in 2005] to take over the existing consulate here in Philadelphia, my jurisdiction is Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. In that role, my principal focus has been supporting the trade, political, economic and cultural relationships between Chile and the region.

I work actively. I’ve taken the governors of Delaware and Pennsylvania to Chile. I organized the visit of Chile’s president [Michelle Bachelet Jeria] to the region last year – the first-ever visit of a president of Chile to this all-important region.

This region supports half a million jobs in Chile. These are numbers provided by Asoex, the Chilean Exporters Association.

So this region for Chile is tremendously important and, of course, as a result of the trade, thousands of jobs are supported here. So it’s a win-win relationship.

I, as consul, have the great responsibility of working to ensure this relationship is constantly growing and constantly front-and-center for both Chile and our region.

As a member of the board of the Chilean & American Chamber, I have helped the chamber develop deep relationships in Chile, both with chambers in Chile and at the political and economic level. What this has meant is the chamber, which brings together industry primarily, is able to very effectively work to support the trade interests of both sides.

An example is that, when we had our devastating earthquake in 2010 [taking more than 500 lives and causing more than US$25 billion in economic losses], the chamber was able to work with the government and authorities to help find ways to allow Chile’s fruit to come in unhindered despite delays because of damage to the ports. This is why a chamber is so important, particularly this one.

At Afina International, I am a partner, and my chief responsibility is managing and sustaining our key relationships. We’re a finance and investment firm. We work throughout Latin America but are particularly strong in Chile.

I’m taking off my consul hat. In my private-sector position as a partner of Afina, we look at investing not just into the region but also bringing investment from the region into the United States.

In a way, it mirrors the work that I’m doing as a diplomat, except this is actually moving dollars back and forth that are creating jobs here in the U.S., that are creating opportunities in Chile, and it goes beyond Chile and the U.S. We just recently launched a fund in Australia that allows Australian pension funds to direct their resources into the capital markets of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.

So, at Afina, we’re helping to grow the economies of these countries and of the United States, and it’s a privilege.

What did you learn from your participation in the National Outdoor Leadership School while attending Hamilton College that you are successfully applying today?

I spent three months [of 1991] in the northern ice fields of Chilean Patagonia. This is where I first experienced my deep love for Chile.

The lessons that you learn under those very extreme circumstances are how to be resilient, creative, and I learned how to take risks while understanding that the consequences at times can be life-threatening.

In my career, in what I do, what I learned through NOLS is how to be a leader, how to make tough decisions, not to shy away from risks but also manage the downside, because, in this case, the downside was you could have fallen down a crevasse and died.

That’s a pretty serious downside…

That was made abundantly clear to us. They said, “This is a program to learn how to lead, but leading does not mean making stupid mistakes.”

This has served me well, because whether it’s building a business or helping Chile build its relationships, you need a bit of both. You need to be able to ask tough questions and think big, like getting the president to come here, but, at the same time, you need to understand that there are consequences and know how to manage for it.

It is a lesson that I’m constantly reminded of that came out of NOLS and, wow, Patagonia! It’s one of the most amazing places in the world. It was definitely a “Lord of the Rings” experience that continues to serve me to this day.

At what point in life – and how – did you obtain multilingual proficiency?

I was born and raised in Mexico. My father was the regional president of Campbell Soup Co. for Latin America. I’m a 14th generation Yankee – my family arrived in 1664 – but, because of my father’s work, I was born in Mexico. Because of that, not only am I completely bilingual, but also have a deep, deep, deep love for Latin America, and that’s where that began.

My mother’s father was the consul general of Switzerland here in Philadelphia during World War II. Of course, that always inspired me to be a diplomat.

So I have to say that I am actually living my dream today. I get to be a diplomat for a region of the world that I love, and I’m also doing my work and my business, and they are absolutely interrelated. It gives me great joy to have the privilege to meet and work with extraordinary people.

Bringing it back to Delaware River ports, I think this is what Delaware River ports as a whole – as I’ve gotten to meet and know everybody involved – it’s all about the deep personal relationships and the deep care for Latin America and building business in Latin America and especially Chile.

When not busy with your extensive business pursuits, what do you do for fun?

You can probably guess that one of them is that I love wine and wine tastings. I certainly take opportunities to do that.

And the other thing – not that I don’t travel enough – is I love, love personal travel.

And all of that was fine and good until last year, when I became father to identical twin girls. At this point in time, I’ve discovered that there’s nothing more joyful or entertaining for me or where I’d rather spend every moment of my free time than being a dad.

I’d give up any other hobby. I just love, love being a dad.

My wife’s family is from Hong Kong, and we just got back from Hong Kong. We took the babies and we went to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

So your daughters will definitely be multilingual…

You bet.

The fact is, whether we want it or not, it’s a global world. My family, in a way, is part of that, but it’s exciting for me to think that my daughters will be not only multilingual but multicultural and will consider the world their home. And I think that’s good for all of us.


Chilean miner recounts dramatic rescue during ‘The 33’ premiere

Monday, October 12th, 2015

By Anne Hoffman
Published October 09, 2015 on Fox News Latino

PHILADELPHIA – There was a long line of people waiting to take a picture with Jose Henriquez at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center Thursday night. People were shuffled in and out, assembly line style, so everyone could take a turn. Elderly women, young ladies in heels so high one tripped downstairs – and even little kids wanted a photo with him and some Chilean flags after a screening of “The 33.”

The 33 1

Henriquez is one of Los 33, the group of Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days in 2010. A Pentecostal Christian for most of his life, Henriquez would often sit in the center of a semicircle of men, and lead them all in prayer. This was a role he assumed naturally, as someone who had experience with street preaching in his life pre-disaster. He eventually won the nickname El Pastor. “We had a captive church,” he told the audience Thursday night after the screening, to laughter.

The screening, held by La Esperanza, a religious nonprofit in Philadelphia whose mission is to “strengthen Hispanic communities,” was attended by almost 260 people. It was an audience comprised of Latino clergy, university presidents, political leaders and high school and college students.

The 33 (1)

Gladys Gordon, a Chilean chancellor for the local consulate, was in attendance. At the reception before the screening, bartenders served big glasses of Chilean wine.

The screening and Q and A that followed was not Jose Henriquez’s first rodeo. He’s been traveling for five years speaking about the horrifying ordeal in the Copiapo mine. Philadelphia was his last stop on a multi-city tour that included church visits in Los Angeles and screenings in Dallas and Miami. For part of the tour, he was joined by another miner, Ariel Ticona, as well as Greg Hall, a driller who worked on mine rescue efforts back in 2010.

The miners were excited to see the book, called “Deep Dark Down,” finally near its release date as a major motion picture. All 33 miners gave extensive testimony to the filmmaker, Henriquez said. He told the audience that he and his fellow miners were hoping they could receive compensation from some the film’s profits.

The 33 (2)

Some audience members were also deeply concerned to discover that the company that owned the mine was not found at fault by the Chilean government, and was not required to pay miners a settlement. Henriquez told the audience that while he and the other 32 men “were not blessed” to work for the owners of the mine, one positive from the film and the accident is that it is creating awareness about how dangerous mining can be. The ultimate hope is to strengthen worker protections.

Henriquez is one of the fourteen older miners who received a small pension from the government, but he said, at around $500 a month “it can’t support a family.” Many of the miners have health problems. Henriquez himself has issues with his lungs. Other miners have had a hard time finding work, and some have returned to below-ground work once again.

People in the audience were overwhelmingly moved by Henriquez’s testimony, as well as his portrayal in the film. A 14-year-old named Jordan who is mulling a career in the ministry found Henriquez’s character the most moving. “Definitely someone who I could look up to really highly,” he said.

The 33 (3)

Widilia Ortiz, an older woman from Camden said, “I think he was a key person in what happened to them. He gave them the hope to survive,” adding that Henriquez gave the men something to live for. “God put him in there to give them the support that they needed spiritually.”

“For me it was amazing as a man of God to hear what he was saying about what was going on down there…Where there was supposed to be no hope, in the darkness of that place, there was hope,” Hector Villaveitia, a Bible teacher at Esperanza high school said, “At some point in our travel through life, we lose faith. But we need to receive or look for that hope, within us.”

For many of the men in the mine, Henriquez provided that.


An Extraordinary Evening of Global Networking – July 29th, 2015

Monday, August 10th, 2015

The volume of the chatter on the 19th floor of the Hyatt at the Bellevue was a true testament to the networking power between all 14 international organizations involved in the making of the 5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception.

5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception

For the 5th consecutive year, Philadelphia’s international chambers joined forces to host the much-anticipated International Business Networking Reception on Wednesday, July 29th. Partners of this year’s event included: Asian American Chamber of Commerce; Brazil-Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia; Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia; French-American Chamber of Commerce; German American Chamber of Commerce; Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Irish American Business Chamber & Network, Inc.; Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia; Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia; Mid-Atlantic – Eurasia Business Council; Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce; and Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception

The networking reception featured a brief program including welcoming remarks from Robert Palaima, President and Chairman of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce and also President of one of the Corporate Sponsors of the evening, Delaware River Stevedores, Inc. Tyra Ford, Director of Operations & Strategic Marketing Initiatives from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, addressed the crowd and explained the mission of Fox IB Programs, also a Corporate Sponsor of the reception.

5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception

Following was the featured speaker of the evening, Jim Kenney, Philadelphia’s Democratic Mayoral Nominee. Kenney stressed the importance of international business’ key role in the creation of jobs for the unemployed and impoverished here in Philadelphia. Kenney also spoke highly of Chile and the ports within the Greater Philadelphia region: “Chile has been a great source of work for our stevedores, truck drivers and warehouseman… [And with] port expansion, [our city] can provide the opportunity for people without a college degree to be trained for jobs that pay 35-40 dollars an hour and can raise their families and take care of their neighborhoods and raise folks standard of living up.”

5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception

Thank you to all attendees, sponsors, and partnering organizations for making the 5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception the most successful one yet!

To view photos from the event, please click here to view our Flickr page.

Click here to follow us on Twitter.

Click here to like us on Facebook.

5th Annual Summer International Business Networking Reception

Taste of Chile’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebrates Feeding the World

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

10th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile
Click here to view photos from the wine tasting and dinner

A major celebration highlighting the remarkable friendship and international trade contributions between the Republic of Chile and the Tri State Region took center stage at the elegant Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware. The Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce created an extraordinary testament to this most successful and cordial partnership, celebrating the Chamber’s 10th Anniversary of the Taste of Chile Awards Dinner, honoring the DuPont Company for their enduring connections with Chile.

Governor Jack Markell was on hand to present the Chamber’s Visionary Award to the DuPont Company. “We are so focused on the Port as an economic engine and jobs creator, but this relationship is also a huge jobs creator for so many thousands of people in Chile,” said the Governor. “It is such a win-win situation, they trust us to handle their prized wines and produce, we then enjoy their produce during the winter months and year round. DuPont’s work with Chile dates back to the 1850s. They do business there in mining, agriculture, aquaculture, they have 500 full time employees, plus seasonal employees, four research and development centers plus production facilities. It’s a deep relationship so they are the perfect recipient for this award.”

10th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

Governor Markell had stellar remarks about the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce.

He also complimented the work of Chile’s Honorary Consul for the Tri-State region, Benjamin Leavenworth, remembering fondly the state visit of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. He had high praise for Leavenworth’s contributions to that peerless occasion.

DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Collins, Jr. accepted the Visionary Award on behalf of DuPont. Collins discussed the dramatic breakthrough in salmon aquaculture DuPont pioneered along with Aqua Chile. He also spoke of the important role Chile plays in seed production worldwide and their partnership with DuPont. He praised the work of Chile’s scientists and business community. Collins emphasized food security is one of the world’s most pressing issues. “At DuPont we apply our science to bring farmers new seeds and innovative crop protection products that produce better meals, we work with food companies to provide consumers with nutrition, taste and energy. Our celebration tonight is about feeding the world.”

10th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

The evening’s gourmet menu included DuPont’s Verlasso Salmon, pioneered in Chile. Collins explained the salmon’s development is a venture between DuPont and AquaChile, now one of the largest suppliers of salmon in the Americas. “It’s aimed at changing the sustainability of farm-raised salmon. Today it takes 4 pounds of ocean-caught, feeder-fish to produce one pound of farm raised salmon. So we were able to come up with a yeast that actually produces protein and omega-3 oils. We replace much of the ocean-caught fish with this yeast feed-ration and we are now at one pound of salmon produced from one pound of ocean-caught fish along with the yeast feed. We also worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, based in California, a key seafood-watch program, that rates different types of production systems and in most cases they give farm-raised fish a pretty negative mark. The Verlasso Salmon system is one of the only systems that they have certified ‘safe.’ We got that endorsement over a year ago and we’re real proud of that.”

Collins also commented on the remarkable amount of Chile’s fruit and produce coming through the Ports of the Delaware River, saying, “The Chamber has been instrumental in keeping those trade routes open and supporting the local infrastructure that it takes to keep that kind of flow of goods and services into the country.”

10th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

“This is quite an impressive international story,” said Martin Welch, Chief Operating Officer of Emerging Markets for Aramark, which is one of Chile’s largest employers with a staff of about 23,000 people. “You see the concerted cooperation between Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all coming together in the interest of this region and the Republic of Chile. All of us are motivated to see how we can encourage more commerce between Chile and our region.”

Vice President of the Diamond State Port Corporation, Tom Keefer was a key player in orchestrating the anniversary event. “For our tenth anniversary, we could not have found a better company to honor than DuPont. They have been long-term investors and partners with the Chileans, especially in the agricultural sector, so we are delighted that they received the Visionary Award. We also need a special note of thanks to Governor Markell who always gives unselfishly of his time and we know he has a very busy schedule, but he always supports the Port tremendously and supports the Chilean & American Chamber whenever he is asked.”

10th Annual Experience the Taste of Chile

Chamber President Bob Palaima said, “We’ve had another wonderful year, culminating with her Excellency, Michelle Bachelet of Chile’s visit to our region, it’s our tenth anniversary for the Taste of Chile Awards. We have three states coming together on behalf of our great friend and trade partner, Chile. We have the remarkable support of the elected officials and business leaders of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and the relations between our two countries are the strongest they’ve ever been.”

“Our sponsors, partners and supporters deserve tremendous credit for their vision,” said Miriam Borja-Fisher, treasurer of the Chilean & American Chamber. “It is thanks to their overwhelming support that we are able to continue the extremely important work of this Chamber.”

Presidential Seal of Approval: Chile’s President Makes State Visit to the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce

Friday, February 27th, 2015


PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES — “Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome the President of the Republic of Chile, Her Excellency, Michelle Bachelet.” And with those words the Chilean presidential retinue was led into the Bellevue Stratford ballroom by the Chamber’s President Robert Palaima. This is the first time a sitting Chilean president made an official state visit to the Chamber and she had extraordinary words of praise, encouragement and appreciation.

The unprecedented official state visit was commemorated with a sold-out awards dinner where over three hundred business leaders and guests saw President Bachelet receive the 2015 Friendship Award of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia. Together, Chile and the Chamber have been major engineers of Chile’s rocketing rise to prominence as a world food supplier. After a hearty and lengthy standing ovation, President Bachelet commended the special fellowship between the Delaware Valley and her country.

“I am so happy to be in the Greater Philadelphia Region, because we have so many important contacts here. Our relationships are fantastic. This award is a great honor for me. We all know of the strong bonds between our countries for so many years and I think they will be even stronger and more productive in the future. …As a child, I lived in the U-S, I went to school here and learned the history of Washington crossing the Delaware. So for me it’s also very symbolic to be here.”

The history of Chile’s success with their partner, the Greater Delaware Valley region, hinges on Chile’s reverse growing season, which, last year, brought in winter and year-round produce of more than 750,000 metric tons (MT), with grapes, apples, blueberries, cherries, citrus fruit and avocados” topping the list, according to Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) president, Ronald Bown, who was also part of the presidential delegation. In the 1970’s when this highly nutritional import-export effort first began, it was a revolutionary step-up in American food availabilities and profoundly changed the American dining table and cuisines.

President Bachelet had a special message for the Chilean & American Chamber:
“To congratulate them for all their work because many of the results are a product of their work and the job they do. Also to thank them, because thanks to their efforts, we were able to approve the FTA [Free Trade Agreement] of 2004 and now we have eleven years that this trade agreement has been working very well for both countries. As a matter of fact, here in Philadelphia, many of the things we’re doing related to the fruits have not only created new businesses, but also jobs. And that is so important for the Americans. So I would say this is a win-win relationship and we want to enhance it.”

President Bachelet’s award was presented by Martin Welch, Chief Operating Officer for Aramark’s Emerging Markets. Aramark is one of Chile’s largest single employers, creating over 20,000 jobs there. Knowing how long this official state visit was being worked on, Welch observed, “It speaks volumes on President Bachelet’s interest in expanding the partnership between our two countries in promoting commerce and job growth. It’s incredibly beneficial for her to be here, to see what we have here and to exchange information about opportunities in Chile.” Asked about Aramark’s part in rescuing Chile’s trapped miners and the Pennsylvania-led effort through-out all aspects of the rescue, Welch said, “That’s the true test of genuine caring and friendship. Business is more than just a job, it’s how you can have an impact on society and advance the people in a community. It was very gratifying to be able to help in that rescue effort. It was incredible to see all the resources that came out of this region and see how they can be applied to help people in other parts of the world.”


Bachelet’s unprecedented presidential mission to the Chamber throws more high-beam spotlights on the highly acclaimed, extraordinary alliance between the Greater Philadelphia Region and Chile and the jobs they’ve created together: over 100,000 Chilean jobs and some 12,000 jobs in the Delaware Valley.

In the person of Leo Holt, President of Holt Logisitics, we find representation of four generations of the people on the United States’ side of this winning equation. Holt’s grandfather worked with the pioneers of this international success story, the visionary trailblazers like the Kopke’s, Vandenberg’s, Schiro’s, David Del Curto and all the other groundbreaking leaders who irrigated a desert, turned it green, created award-winning grapes and produce and then built the Chilean economic powerhouse from the Copiapó Valley to the Ports of the Delaware River.

“This is not like any other day,” said Holt. “That the president has honored us with a full state visit to Philadelphia and Delaware really signals the importance of the relationship with the tri-state region and Chile. We are four generations with the ‘Chilean Miracle.’ Over 50 years for us as a single company and there are many companies like us, who have managed to feed thousands of people from the opportunities that have come from the Chilean growth. And here at the forums today, we spoke of not only the agricultural growth, mining and fishing but also of healthcare, science innovation, really electric opportunities for the people of the Delaware Valley to continue to grow along with the people of Chile.”

The Delaware Valley leads the way bringing in about 70% of all of Chile’s fruits and produce. The remaining 30% is split between ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Miami.

During her whirlwind tour this past Tuesday, President Bachelet visited the Port of Wilmington, her countryman Roberto Diaz who directs the world famous Curtis Institute of Music, was featured at a business forum chaired by Leo Holt and then on to the Bellevue, escorted by Chile’s Consul for the Tri-State area, Benjamin Leavenworth. “CACC Executive Director Ricardo Maldonado and I worked on this for years,” said Leavenworth. “This is a great victory for our region, for Chile. It’s proof of our powerful and very special relationship with this very special country.”

Miriam Borja-Fisher of Western Industries said, “This visit is crucial for President Bachelet and for the Delaware Valley. Seeing our contributions to her country in person is so very important and we’re ecstatic that’s she’s here. She said in her speech, that our partnerships are going to achieve even more. Chile and Philly – perfect together.”

Years in the making, outgoing CACC Executive Director Ricardo Maldonado helped put the machinery in motion to make the Bachelet presidential state visit a reality. Chamber President Robert Palaima said, “It’s wonderful that Ricardo is moving forward with his career New York, but I am sad, for myself, to see him go. Over the years I’ve come to depend on Ricardo’s leadership, energy and organization skills, so it’s going to be a big loss for us. Tonight’s presidential visit is a culmination of all that he and the Chamber have worked toward and achieved.”

by Wynne Alexander


A Conversation with the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Presented by the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce
January 20, 2015
Hyatt at the Bellevue

Aramark and Oppenheimer Group Take Top Honors by the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

By Wynne Alexander, Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce

After a string of stellar successes, The Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce (CACC) managed to scale new heights, presenting one of its most powerful and internationally connected awards ceremonies.

This year’s celebration at the Bellevue Hyatt crystalized the Chamber’s mission, spotlighting business superstars Aramark and the Oppenheimer Group, coupled with an outpouring of hearty congratulations from over 300 movers and shakers from the maritime, diplomatic and business sectors, attending the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce 2014 Friend of Chile Awards ceremonies.

“CACC and the entire community of those involved with the enriching interchange between Chile and the United States are indeed fortunate to hold up Marty Welch and John Anderson as their guests of honor this year,” said Leo A. Holt, President of Holt Logistics Corp. “Their accomplishments and respective areas of excellence within their unique industries are widely celebrated. Their commitment to Chile and business excellence made their election choice an easy one.”

Visionary business leader John Anderson, President, Chairman and CEO of The Oppenheimer Group received the Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For almost forty years, John Anderson’s finely-honed business instincts have left an indelible mark on a global industry, while building ‘Oppy’ into one of Canada’s strongest and most successful produce-marketing enterprises. The Oppenheimer Group currently utilizes all four major facilities on the Delaware River: Holt Terminal in Gloucester City, New Jersey; Tioga Marine Terminal and Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia, and the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, importing an assortment of fruits and berries. In a typical year, the Oppenheimer Group brings 4.5 to 5 million cartons of Chilean produce through the Ports of the Delaware River.

“It is truly an honor to be personally recognized in this way, though much of the credit must be given to the strong working relationships built over many years between The Oppenheimer Group locally and the network of service providers that have long supported and grown with the Chilean industry along the Delaware River,” said John Anderson, Chairman and CEO of The Oppenheimer Group.

The Friend of Chile Award went to Aramark and was received by their dynamic Chief Operating Officer of Emerging Markets, Martin Welch, accepting the award on behalf of his entire team at the company. Welch is one of the leaders responsible for helping expand the global frontiers of Philadelphia’s international powerhouse. Aramark has operated in Chile for the past 13 years. With headquarters in Santiago, Chile and approximately 20,000 employees in the country, the company is the largest employer in Chile, serving the country’s mining, education, healthcare and business and industry sectors. Through its Chilean operations, Aramark also serves customers in Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

Welch’s 32 years with Aramark gives him an engaging ease and eloquence in discussing his team’s achievements, especially Aramark’s role in the life-saving rescue of the 33 Chilean miners, who were trapped over 700 yards underground for the 68 days it took to rescue them. Normally it was not thought anyone could survive that amount of time in a collapsed mine. “We were contacted,” Welch said, “and our legal department was concerned about liabilities and this is where the spirit of our people came shining through. We said we’re not going to worry about that. We’re going to bring our people together to get food and nutrition down there to those people and make them as comfortable as possible. That’s the spirit of Aramark. It’s always about what you can do for the community, here and worldwide.”

Aramark’s President for Latin American Operations Pablo Achurra was in town for the ceremonies and also represented the company at the White House, receiving appreciation and congratulations from the Obama administration for Aramark’s life-saving engineering success in feeding the Chilean miners.

“We were called in by Chile’s Association of Safety, Achurra said, “the mine was not our client.” The Association said, ‘can you figure out how to get food to those miners?’ We said, ‘Yes we can.’” Aramark then rigged up special tubes and designed a way to get hot meals to the men, keeping them alive and very well fed for 68 days. Except for the last days, when the miners had to fit into the recue tubes that would propel them to safety. Achurra says Aramark worked with NASA to calculate the calories needed to keep them safe but small enough to fit in the extremely tight rescue capsule for the almost half mile ride through rock to actual daylight.

“The Chilean rescue story is what our relationship with Chile is all about,” said CACC Executive Director, Ricardo Maldonado. “We succeed together; from our mutual economic growth, to the mine rescue, all the way back to helping Chile irrigate the desert that gives us some of the best grapes and produce in the world. One achievement after another show we can count on each other and together, the world can count on us to succeed.”

Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor-elect, Mike Stack summed it all up quite neatly:
“This is the number-one international chamber in the world. Our sister nation is the Republic of Chile and people don’t know what a world-class, warm, important relationship we have and how much economic activity takes place between our two nations along the Delaware River. We in this room know it. We need to talk about it more. This team has great success from the Delaware River to Santiago. Look at this awards lunch, it’s always packed, always sold-out and it’s a story we need to continue to tell and we’re gonna’ do it.”