Berry crops are expanding considerably in southern Europe, as the fruit’s demand is also on the rise. The company Driscoll's is focused on the fresh berry sector and its branch in southern Europe is booming.
In this region, Driscoll's grow berries in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. In charge of these three areas is Nuno Simoes, Operations Director South EMEA and former General Manager of Driscoll's Portugal. "Driscoll's established itself in Portugal in 2004. To make sure that the company grew, we participated in the formation of an association of producers, called LusoMorango, that continues today to be one of the main umbrellas under which most of the Portuguese Growers producers are working with Driscoll's," explains Simoes.
Portugal, Spain and Morocco
The company strategy in the region is based on combining the production capabilities of the three countries to be able to supply berries all year round, given their different climates, and Nuno Simoes believes that this region will play a very important strategic role, given its huge potential. "Right now, Portugal is the largest of the three regions, but all play their role, and we must say that Morocco is growing very fast in all of our berries" he explains. For example, in Portugal, the company produces raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, but not strawberries, at the moment; however, these are grown in Morocco and Spain. Its major product in Portugal is raspberries, although blueberries are also growing very rapidly. The growth potential in Morocco and Spain for some parts of the year is also very high.
For now, the company only produces conventional berries, although it acknowledges the growing interest in organic berries. "Driscoll's is entirely focused on superior eating quality berries and, so far, has been mostly focused on conventional berries in Europe, although we do have a leading position with organics in the United States and we are continually looking for concepts that meet market needs" states Marieke Appel, director of marketing and communications.
Driscoll's plans to continue increase its production of all four berries to be able to meet the growing demand. All berries are growing but especially blueberries and blackberries seem to be gaining traction.
The current offer of Driscoll’s blackberries is very much appreciated by consumers, thanks to their excellent eating quality, which really stands out in the market. Whereas blackberries that were offered on the market in the past were often sour and made consumers lose interest in the category "We believe our Blackberries have a lot of potential, if we supply the right quality," affirms Appel.
According to Appel, the biggest markets for the company have traditionally been Scandinavia, North Western Europe and the UK, but it currently supplies virtually all of Europe. While the domestic markets of the producing countries (Portugal, Spain and Morocco) are not its main goal, the company is also carefully studying the opportunities they offer, as there are good possibilities to build a year-round offer.
Simoes believes that competition in the berry market is very active, which presents both challenges and opportunities, as they also learn from their competitors. Meanwhile, Appel added: "Our way to compete is to supply better quality fruits and do this all year round. We are not afraid of the competition. And believe the opportunity is about growing the whole pie instead of only taking a bigger piece."
The Driscoll's team will attend the trade fair Fruit Attraction. The company is refreshing its entire image and brand expressions to focus more on the emotional value of the category. Berries are clearly a happy category as recent studies have shown that over 85% of consumers agree that berries make them happy. It is now time to express that vibrancy in the new look and feel of the Driscoll’s brand.
At the fair, the company expects to receive more visitors, so its stand will be larger this year. "It will be an excellent opportunity to meet with our partners in the region and also with those from other countries," affirms Appel.
Simoes explains that “our Spanish growers usually attend the fair, and this year they will be joined by some Portuguese and Moroccan growers, as well. The fair not only attracts trade organisations, but also producers."
You can visit Driscoll´s at Stand 7E05B of Fruit Attraction.
Bijster 26, 4817 HX Breda (Office EMEA)
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Nuno Simoes and Marieke Appel, Driscoll’s:
“Year round supply of berries from Portugal, Spain and Morocco”
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