The Quality Series Presents:

Agrocomercial Chile, S.A. produces high quality natural chili peppers and boasts many quality certificates

Similarities of climate, demography and geography make California and Chile mirror images

© 2015 JZam / David Veg
Agrocomercial Chile S.A. has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015. The Chilean producer of dried and smoked Chile Merkén employs quality techniques to produce a world class product for domestic and international consumption.

California and Chile: Mirror Images in Opposite Hemispheres

Chile welcomes some 4 million visitors a year from abroad, and tourism is big business. However, few of those visitors come from the United States. One reason is that, in spite of the fact that both countries are in the Americas, travel time from the United States to Santiago is typically longer than it is for the most popular destinations in Europe.

For Californians, there is another reason: California and Chile have so much in common that a visitor from Los Angeles may feel that after 15 or more hours of travel and some $850 in airline tickets that he’s landed at home. Culturally, geographically, economically and demographically, it would be hard to find two places further apart which have so much in common.

Chile’s economy has a dynamism that is often associated with California. Politics have been tumultuous in both places. California and Chile both experienced 19th century gold rushes, and remarkably were the site of two of the most well known episodes of cannibalism in modern history, both occurring in snow covered wastelands. In California, it was the Donner Party that endured four months in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in Chile 130 years later, survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 passed 72 days in the Andes.

Both Chile and California are bordered by the Pacific on the west and an imposing mountain range to the east. Both enjoy a mild, dry Mediterranean climate, though Chile’s peculiar geography spans a much greater range along its lengthy spine, from the driest place on earth in the north to the soggy south. And both often struggle with smog, earthquakes, droughts, floods, and fires.

The sprawling capital of Santiago has architecture similar to Los Angeles and the same air pollution issues. Both cities have a Mediterranean climate, and suffer from earthquakes. Droughts, floods, and fires are common, and green movements are politically popular, with a high awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability, a commitment to renewable energy, and a well developed market for natural products.

© 2015 JZam / David Veg
Chile is much longer north to south than California, but if one superimposes the Golden State on a map of Chile at similar latitudes, the geographic similarities are striking. At the lower latitudes the climate is dry, with cold Pacific waves bathing sandy beaches. As one goes to higher latitudes, the weather gets soggier and there are scenic bays and tall conifer forests. Both have a central valley with a coastal mountain range and a larger range of mountains inland (although Chile’s is taller and closer to the sea).

As is true of any coastal community, beaches are enormously popular. Aficionados of the sea on both sides of the equator can enjoy whale watching, feel the fog roll gently in of a morning, and go surfing in the Pacific along the coast which gets rockier at higher latitudes.

For lovers of fauna, condors can be found taking advantage of thermals generated by the sea and the mountains, and pelicans fish in the waters off of Puerto Montt as well as Santa Barbara. Most Californians would feel at home hearing the Spanish language on the streets, as more than one third of los angelenos speak Spanish as their first language, and the Chilean population consisting largely of people of mixed Spanish and indigenous descent would not be out of place stateside. And don’t forget the wind farms on ridges, the result of a push towards greener energy and less reliance on oil imports in both places.

Fruits, Vegetables and Timber for the World

Agriculture, however, may be where the two places have most in common. In addition to world class wines, California and Chile both produce prodigious amounts of grapes, avocados, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, pears, peaches, garlic, beans, fish, wool, apricots, strawberries, peppers, cucumbers and timber. The wine country of Chile surrounds Santiago much like it does San Francisco. As one moves to higher latitudes, land use gradually transforms to silviculture.

With its large Mexican population, hot chilis are incredibly popular in California. And in Chile, there is a grower producing fragrant chili peppers for international consumption, including California. Agrocomercial Chile S.A. is a company based in -- where else? -- Los Angeles, in this case the capital city of the province of Bío Bío in Chile’s central valley. The area is blessed with a gentle climate and receives pure, crystal clear water straight from the Andes.

The Goat’s Horn Cayenna is little known outside of the country of Chile, but Agrocomercial Chile intends to change that one sale at a time.  The company uses the pepper as a base to produce Chile Merkén.  The Cayenna is dried, smoked and ground then mixed with bell peppers, coriander and salt.  Available in packages ranging from 10 grams up to 250 grams, Chile Merkén can be bought in three different flavour varieties, smoked, garlic and oregano.

All of the company’s products are natural, using no hormones, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Even the wood used for smoking is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and carries the Chilean National Sustainable Forest Management Standard seal.

In addition to taking special pains to produce a high valued product, Agrocomercial Chile takes its commitment to quality seriously. This commitment manifests itself in the number of certificates it has received for good management practices. From seed production to packaging, the entire process is managed and certified as complying with ISO 9001 and Occupational Health and Safety 18000. The company also insists that its suppliers carry ISO and HACCP certifications. The result is quality, flavour and aroma that differentiate Chile Merkén.

The BID committee was impressed with the unusual degree to which a producer of dried vegetables has followed strict quality standards, and because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, Agrocomercial Chile has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015 at the convention in London.


BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.