The secret of fruit is in the...timing

The international marketing magazine for fresh produce buyers in Europe
Mike Knowles



The secret of fruit is in the...timing

Product and brand quality is essential to companies as consumers in Europe feel the financial pinch

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The secret of good comedy…? Timing, of course. As it turns out, the secret to growing sales of fresh mangoes and papayas is not too dissimilar. As we report in this month’s issue, European mango and papaya importers and marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to provide consumers with a ready-to-eat product – ripe at the point of sale and timed to perfection. The convenience of fresh-cut may be a good way to add value, but ripeness is no longer an optional extra.

As the European economy begins to take a nosedive and inflation rears its ugly head once again, the growing importance of getting product quality exactly right and of safeguarding repeat purchases will not be lost on those looking to sell fresh fruit and vegetables. For those companies which have invested heavily in branding – such as Total Produce, which will officially launch its new brand TOP later this month – the stakes are even higher. But, as our interview with Total Produce chief executive Rory Byrne (News Focus, p16-17 of Eurofruit Magazine, August edition) suggests, the economic slowdown may not be all bad news. For the strongest, most expansive companies, a downturn can provide valuable opportunities to make acquisitions and steal a march on the competition. In times of economic difficulty, people tend to go with what they know and trust, and for the fresh produce trade’s leading brands, that could also prove to be an advantage. Here, success could again depend on the timing – the right acquisition at the right time, or the right product in a particular market at the opportune moment.

Last month, we spoke to James Harvey of Fresh Del Monte UK about the challenge his company faces in convincing retailers to stock its branded fruit instead of opting for private label supplies. In the last 20 years, there has been a clear move away from supplier brands at a consumer level, with the likes of Tesco Finest, Edeka’s Rio Grande and a growing number of French private labels dominating their markets. As a result, supplier brands have been confined largely to the supply chain, with the exception of those that have huge amounts of trade support or which have a very distinct profile. While received wisdom suggests these brands are more or less finished at consumer level, the recent launch of Kirikou (see Brand Dossier, p23 of Eurofruit Magazine, August edition) would suggest otherwise. With a strong profile and a clear, emotive message via its links with Unicef, this is a brand which has apparently timed its appearance just right.

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