Monday 14th May 2012, 16:10 London
Zon buys German blueberry supplier
Dutch marketer acquires Heidefrucht in northern Germany as it seeks to expand in northern European soft fruit market
Dutch fresh produce marketer Zon Fruit & Vegetables has taken a significant step to expand its soft fruit business with the takeover of Heidefrucht, a specialist, grower-owned blueberry supplier based in Langwedel, near Bremen in the Lower Saxony region of northern Germany.
The €800,000 acquisition, finalised on 10 May, is expected to give Zon better control over the availability of blueberry volumes through its operation and enable it to strengthen its own position on the European, and in particular, German berry market.
"The European blueberry market is rapidly growing. Right now, consumption in the market area comprising Germany, France, the UK, the Benelux and Scandinavia amounts to about 35,000 tons a year. The growth potential in this market is estimated to be around 130,000 tons," said a spokesperson for Zon. "The takeover of Heidefrucht will enable ZON to offer this growth market better service and more produce."
Zon said it planned to expand Heidefrucht's facilities next year as part of plans to build blueberry sales in northern Europe.
With 30 affiliated blueberry growers, Zon currently manages production area of 375ha in the Netherlands. The Heidefrucht takeover is set to add 15 German growers with a combined acreage of 250ha and total turnover of around €4m.
In the meantime, Zon has also revealed it is now in the process of building a new, 8,000m2 packhouse for its soft fruit division.
Subsidiary Sun Berry International is scheduled to begin using start using the facility to handle fresh soft fruit, with the majority of the existing 4,000m2 hall due to be used to process blueberries that are less suited to the fresh market.
According to the company, an brand new installation for the production of fresh and long-life juices will be ready to begin operating around the end of June.
Zon's soft fruit division is currently responsible for about 12 per cent of the group's annual turnover. "It is expected that the takeover of Heidefrucht will lead to a substantial increase in that percentage in the years to come," said the spokesperson. "The main focus will be on retail in the aforementioned market area."