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Mike Knowles



GBC2016: big changes ahead for berries

To keep up its recent impressive growth, the berry sector needs to capitalise on new opportunities to improve

GBC2016: big changes ahead for berries

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Major changes to the way the berry business approaches customers and consumers are expected over the coming years as one of the fresh produce industry’s stand-out categories in terms of sales growth over the past few years attempts to continue and sustain that expansion in the years ahead.

With around 350 delegates from the international soft fruit sector due to convene in Rotterdam, Netherlands, for the Global Berry Congress 2016 on 14-15 March, confidence couldn’t be higher as far as the potential opportunities for berries to achieve greater sales penetration in existing and new markets thanks to a number of factors.

As Cindy van Rijswick of Rabobank will explain to delegates at the annual conference, sales and profitability in the category will be driven by better varieties and plant materials, new investment capital, extension of production seasons, improved category management, vertical co-operation, new opportunities in terms of international trade and an overall increase in product quality.

But, the analyst warns, there are also questions the berry trade will need to answer when it comes to areas such as environmental sustainability, growing competition between supply sources, market access and ensuring that quality never disappoints consumers.

Among the speakers at this year’s Global Berry Congress are Holger Brandt, international business development director at SanLucar, one of Europe’s largest fresh produce marketers.

According to Brandt, the event will offer a valuable chance to learn more about a category that occupies a central position in terms of the group’s commercial operations.

“Certainly SanLucar is one of the biggest players on the European berry market, and that’s why for us it is so important every year to participate at the congress,” he comments. “It is a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge and to do networking since it enables us to strengthen links and keep in contact within the berry industry.”

In addition, he says, GBC2016 is an excellent arena in which to identify new market trends. “This sector has shown a great potential with significant growth in recent times,” he comments. “As an example, every year berry demand in Germany doubles again and despite this fast growth, the figures are still far from the levels of consumption registered today in other countries, like Austria and the UK.”

As a result, he concludes, there is “still a long way to go” and there will be numerous opportunities opening up in the sector for new products, new suppliers and new sources.

“We only have to know how to take advantage of these opportunities and I’m sure that with meetings like GBC we will be able to develop interesting ideas for the future.”

Elsewhere on the programme, David Northcroft of UK supermarket chain Waitrose will offer a summary of the key trends affecting retail consumer demand for berries; Cort Brazelton of US company Fall Creek Farm & Nursery will predict how the blueberry business might not have such a rosy future ahead; David Smith of Shanghai-based SVA Fruits will explain how to go about selling berries in China; and José Gandia of Spanish group SAT Royal will offer his opinion on what opportunities lie ahead for producers, suppliers and exporters on the global berry market.

To register for your place at Global Berry Congress 2016, head to and click on the Register Now button.

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