Exotics & Specialties, the exotic fruit and vegetable unit of Dutch fresh produce marketer The Greenery, has begun producing mangoes in Brazil for sale under its Solentes brand, the company has confirmed.
Speaking exclusively to Eurofruit, the dvision's Corrie Visbeen said the group had opted to secure its own source in order to guarantee a steady supply of good-quality, unripened product all year round.
The mangoes are currently imported via a mixture of sea- and airfreight. Depending on the product, Exotics & Specialties imports exotics either by sea or by air, although Visbeen reveals that transporting exotics by sea has become a more popular option recently given the potential cost saving.
Some fruits like papaya, starfruit, rambutan and mangosteen remain unsuited to an ocean voyage due to their shelf-life or delicateness, but others like mangoes can now be timed to ripen on arrival in the market, making the concept of ready-to-eat more attainable.
“Certain exotics, such as mangoes and avocados, are well-suited to transport by sea,” says Visbeen. "In most cases, they taste just as good as their tree-ripened counterparts.”
Bucking the trend
While one might expect core products like bananas and apples to be less affected by the economic downturn, the exotics category would appear more likely to suffer a drop in sales given its products’ intrinsic status as value-added, optional extras in the consumer’s basket.
To that extent, the timing of Dutch group The Greenery’s decision to set up its Exotics & Specialties unit in late 2010 may seem risky with hindsight, yet more than two years on the division is said to be flourishing.
Across the European market, growth in exotics sales have been modest at best. While the number of importers and exporters has grown considerably, increased product availability combined with the recession has apparently led consumers to be more careful on price.
Yet according to Visbeen, the group has managed to strengthen its Solentes brand and develop a varied and exclusive product range consisting of baby corn, mini vegetables, fresh garlic, ready-to-eat avocados, limes, sweet potatoes, blueberries, cranberries, physalis and mangoes; these are imported by sea and tree ripened by air in distinctive cartons.
“Exotics need extra attention on the supermarket shelves. Although quality, food safety and continuity of products are important pillars to guarantee this, there has also been a notable increase in demand for extra service. In addition to logistical solutions, this could be marketing support or the joint preparation of year-round programmes,” she explains.
As Solentes continues to develop as a brand, flexibility of service as well as consistent high quality will be required in order to distinguish it from the competition, Visbeen believes. “A good case in point would be the development of Solentes’ packaging,” she suggests, pointing to the brand’s attractive new packaging line that incorporates clear communication, eye-catching illustrations and the use of distinctive colours for each product.
“Another example would be our mixed Solentes, guacamole and salsa packs. These contain all the ingredients you need to make a great salsa dip or perfect guacamole.”