Venture provides a platform to grow the local market by bringing best varieties and knowhow to India
Hortifrut has joined forces with India’s IG Berries in a deal that is set to fast-track the development of the country’s berry market. Hortifrut has committed US$20m to the venture, which it said will allow the partnership to expand its current footprint in India.
IG Berries was set up as a joint venture between Indian fruit importer IG International, Australia’s Mountain Blue Orchards (MBO), and agribusiness investor Mano D. Babiolakis.
Tarun Arora, executive director IG International, said the combination of partners, now including Hortifrut, was truly ground-breaking for the fresh produce industry in India.
“IG Berries is the first venture of its kind focused on high-tech blueberry production in India and Hortifrut is a global business known worldwide for its strategic partnerships and leadership in berries,” he said.
“Our new partnership with Hortifrut as the global leader in blueberry and the strength of IG International in distribution and logistics will ensure this expansion transforms the berry business across India in the years to come.”
According to Hortifrut’s CEO, Juan Ignacio Allende, the partnership provides a great platform in a new market.
“We are excited to be part of the changing landscape and by the opportunity to invest alongside the partners in IG Berries,” he said. “We see the potential and opportunity as significant and are looking forward to being a part of the berries’ growth story in India and beyond.”
Hortifrut’s head of Asia Pacific, Bobby Yavari, said each of the parties contributing different areas of expertise to the venture.
“This is a unique and synergetic partnership comprised of Hortifrut as the global leader in blueberry production and marketing, IG Berries with strong supply chain and world leading MBO blueberry genetics.
“Besides our related expertise and investment, Hortifrut will also be bringing top varieties including raspberries and blackberries to one of the most dynamic and promising markets in the world.”
The MBO varieties are exclusive to IG Berries in India. “The focus in India has always been to expand and grow the local market by bringing the best tasting blueberries to the consumer,” said MBO’s managing director Andrew Bell.
“Our investment has been focused on every aspect of the supply chain, right from propagating the plants in our own tissue culture lab right through to the end consumer. With Hortifrut on board, we will now have the scale and opportunity to drive consumption.”
Babiolakis, who has worked in the industry for almost four decades, said the partnership was one of the most exciting he has been a part of.
“To see this project take shape from initial meetings in 2017, to where we are today, is amazing,” he commented.
“The team on the ground have done an exceptional job to establish the project in a challenging and demanding environment.
“Now with the resources, the firepower and expertise the new partnership has available, we have the opportunity to be a major player and a real-world leader in a very exciting and new market.”