With more than 50 years of experience in the import and export of fresh fruits and vegetables, Sofruce is undergoing a period of important development. This year, the multinational currently managed by Grégory Cebrian, grandson of the company’s founder, generated a record revenue of 93 million euros [105 million USD].
Historically, Sofruce used to focus primarily on red fruits and on Spain, its business model has evolved in recent years. It is now based on three strategic pillars: red fruits (strawberries in pole position, and strong ambitions for raspberries and blueberries), citrus fruits (especially the tangerines from Morocco) and tomatoes (namely segmentation tomatoes). Additionally, Sofruce is strongly developing melons, starting as early as March.
Grégory Cebrian and Fabien Lefebvre
“A complex end of 2018 for the tomato from Morocco”
Already delicate due to the mild temperatures in Northern Europe allowing for a lengthy season for local products, the tomato market was considerably disrupted in the second half of December.
Despite the “butterfly effect” (chain of succeeding events, where each event is affected by the previous one), Sofruce managed to adapt to the many disturbances of the European market, rendered fragile by the logistics problems from the social movements in France and from the Russian market which, as usual, stopped importing towards the end of the year. “Our commercial teams have accomplished tremendous work to keep sales flowing despite the sudden increase in production volumes (more than 1,500 tons arriving daily in Perpignan in weeks 51 and 52).
The price range has been widening downwards for the round cocktail tomatoes and especially for the elongated cherries, where the supply has been largely superior to the demand.” Fabien Lefebvre remains optimistic: “now, the market is firming up, the cold has settled, the month of January will be better. We have January, February, March and April to promote the work of our producers. Towards the end of April, the market will be disturbed again by the start of the campaign in Northern Europe.”
Citrus market: more volumes for a lower average selling price
Fabien Lefebvre explains that “the range of prices is significantly lower than in the previous campaign although the quality is on point.” He adds that the production volumes have increased significantly for the tangerines, particularly in the Berkane region. “The North-American market is weaker than in the previous years, the pressure from the Turkish and Egyptian products on the Russian market is growing each year and Morocco is refocusing largely on the European market.”
With the new year starting, we are launching the Nour campaign, a very interesting variety available on European markets during the whole month of January. A “differentiating product that brings a real added value”, as Fabien Lefebvre describes it, which will be followed by the Afourer/Nadorcott campaign until April; a promising second half of the season.
The Maria company, a 2018 novelty
Fabien Lefebvre took up his position of general manager in a context of important and sustainable development, marked by the creation by Grégory Cebrian of a new company: Maria, the producers’ headquarters. While the activities of Sofruce are primarily based on Cross-Docking platforms departing from Perpignan and Rotterdam for “tailor-made” work, Maria consists of the “direct shipment of productions to all destination markets.” With this concept, Sofruce-Maria offers its partner-producers a possibility to support their strategic choices and to be fully in charge of the valorization of their merchandise. The two main partners to date are the COPAG group, with 120,000 tons of citrus fruits and 60,000 tons of early vegetables, and the Rosaflor group, with 40,000 tons of segmentation tomatoes, early vegetables and melons. This type of partnership is being developed in Spain, Morocco and other complementary origins.
“Growth levels in the 3-digits” for organic goods
“For the majority of our products, we have set conventional guidelines and biological standards. It is on those products that we observe the high levels of growth. The markets of Northern Europe are the most receptive, but the interest in France is not negligible.”
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