Please find our latest business news and media items: / Thursday 3rd April 2014

Total Berry to develop the European berry market

The berry category is one of the fastest growing in the fresh produce sector, this is obvious in the UK where consumption has doubled in the last fifteen years, according to Mark Player, managing director of Total Berry, it has now become a less seasonal product. “Growers, category managers together with retailers have worked extremely hard to achieve continuity in supply to make this a year-round product.”
He sees a huge potential for growth in the European markets where sales are more seasonal, “What we need to do is supply consistent, good eating berries so the consumer can be sure of getting a great strawberry every time, what ever the season.”

“We need to understand the European market, we can take the experience we have in the UK and combine it with our local knowledge in the different countries, this goes for category management, intellectual properties as well as packaging to name but a few aspects.”

The first thing to recognise, according to Player, is that people like to buy local, “We aim to work with local growers, give them access to varieties, techniques and our agronomy teams who have a lot of experience in growing different varieties all over the world.”

Total Berry is one of Europe’s foremost authorities on berries with a global network of growers who support a continuous supply of berries throughout the year. Dedicated, highly qualified experts travel the world to assess crop quality from existing and potential suppliers, which enables the company to provide the retail, catering and wholesale sectors with exactly the produce they require. Total Berry aims to take a leading role as a European berry company to develop the European berry market.

The company has very good relationships with growers in countries such as Spain, Chile, Uruguay, Morocco and Kenya. Kenya is becoming a good source for berries and fills gaps in the calender.

Most produce is sold under private labels. In the Swedish market, where Total Berry introduced the “Berry for the Senses” range, they are doing a lot of work on quality standards, forming a strategic grower base and are in the process of identifying a national strawberry concept.

Operation efficiencies within the company are strengthened by a pan European technical team and logistics.

The company will also be looking at packaging. At the moment in Europe most retailers use a punnet with a lid, where as in the UK the heat sealed punnet is the norm. Total Berry are looking at introducing the heat sealed punnet into Europe as it forms a controlled atmosphere for the berries and is tamper proof, but this will depend on European consumers and retailers.

Player stresses the importance of intellectual property, “Good relationships with breeders are not to be under estimated, we have good relationships with breeders worldwide, some exclusive. There is a lot of time and money invested into identifying the right varieties for the right markets, you need to tick the boxes with the consumer and the retailer. If we can get this right and get consistency, I firmly believe that the product will sell itself, then we will have a rapidly growing business.” / Wdnesday 5th March 2014

Total Produce invests to create more added value

“Traditional short-term relationships are no longer sufficient in European retail”
Drew Reynolds
Irish multi-national Total Produce has made major changes in its organisation over the past few months by bringing together 35 technical managers across Europe, some existing members of staff and some new hires. It consists of product quality experts, agronomists and customer experts.

Jelger De Vriend, Managing Director of Total Produce Direct, explains that very few companies have this pan European aspect to the business. “This new structure allows us to create added value, we have experts on the ground who know a lot about fruit, for example, shelf-life, production, development of new varieties, packaging etc. and are perfectly placed to speak directly to the customer.”

De Vriend explains that every market is unique and every consumer has different demands, “Total Produce Direct is now in the position to talk to consumers, customers and seed breeders in various countries to produce the right product.”

Drew Reynolds is leading the technical team, he has extensive experience with the UK retailers. Drew works closely with Total Produce’s partners in production and customers in retail and food service.

The UK market has historically had a strong focus on technical management of fresh produce. To be able to make that expertise available for other businesses in the Group is a unique opportunity according to Jelger.

“Traditional short-term relationships are no longer sufficient in European retail,” explains Drew. “Total Produce is entering sustainable partnerships with retailers and growers, this is the only way to improve the quality of our produce with complete traceability. The biggest success in UK retail has been with category managers.”