Nick Allen stays on at BGL as world’s number one berry marketer, Driscoll’s, completes acquisition of commercial arm of UK’s biggest berry grower cooperative

Driscoll's is the world's biggest berry marketer

Driscoll’s is the world’s biggest berry marketer

US-headquartered berry giant Driscoll’s has today (1 November) completed the acquisition of Berry Gardens Limited (BGL), the sales, packaging and distribution entity of leading UK berry cooperative Berry Gardens Growers Limited (BGG).

Driscoll’s is the global market leader for fresh berries with product grown in more than 21 countries and sold in more than 60. Berry Gardens Limited is the UK’s largest supplier of berries. Berry Gardens has grown, distributed and marketed Driscoll’s varieties on an exclusive basis in the UK for more than 20 years.

The intent to acquire was announced in June this year, with both parties agreeing that the 2022 British growing season should not be interrupted.

Managing director, Driscoll’s Europe, Middle East and Africa, Russell Allwell said: “This acquisition supports our vision to ‘become the world’s berry company, enriching the lives of everyone we touch’, given the UK is Europe’s second largest fresh berry market; and we believe there is strong growth potential in the UK.

“Berry Gardens’ value chain has a world-class infrastructure, strong historic ties to Driscoll’s, and industry-leading operations expertise. We can serve British customers and consumers better with an offer differentiated through innovation, new varieties and sustainable choices whether own-label or private. We will be investing heavily in the UK, attracting new consumers, creating new occasions and ensuring a long and successful local season in 2023 and beyond.”

General manager, Berry Gardens Limited, Nick Allen said: “This is a good move for all parties. Our customers will benefit from investments, innovations and category growth; British consumers will get the highest quality berries 52 weeks per year; our staff get the benefits of working for a global leader; Berry Gardens Growers continue to have access to world-class varieties; and, of course, Driscoll’s secures access to both a market with room for growth and some of the best berries grown anywhere in the world.

The integration begins today (1 November) with both a “business-as-usual” and “best-of-both-worlds” attitude, Driscoll’s said.

Allen, who stays as the general manager of Berry Gardens and joins the Driscoll’s EMEA management team, said: “No changes will be made in the UK unless essential to align the two businesses and we’ll be seeking to benefit from each other’s strengths.”

From a commercial standpoint, Allwell says: “We’re a fifth-generation family business and the world’s biggest berry company so we have some experience. Our heritage is one of pioneering innovation and consistent growth in every country we operate in, we’d love to do the same here.”

Relationships with the growers, who belong to Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, remain strong as they see the huge value and opportunities that Driscoll’s can bring in terms of volume growth.

Driscoll’s is the global market leader of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

With more than 100 years of farming heritage, Driscoll’s is a pioneer of berry flavour innovation and the trusted consumer brand of Only the Finest Berries. With more than 900 independent growers around the world, Driscoll’s develops exclusive patented berry varieties using only traditional breeding methods that focus on growing great tasting berries. A dedicated team of agronomists, breeders, sensory analysts, plant pathologists and entomologists help grow baby seedlings that are then grown on local family farms.

Driscoll’s now serves consumers year-round across North America, Australia, Europe and China in over twenty-one countries.

Berry Gardens Ltd supplies a large percentage of the nation’s berries and cherries. Until November 1 2022 it was wholly-owned by Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, a co-operative of 42 member growers who span the whole country, from Kent to Scotland.

Berry Gardens has had the market exclusivity for Driscoll’s market leading Premium and preferred genetics, and will now have access to the exciting pipeline of emerging varieties that Driscoll’s is building for the future, to continue raising quality standards across our offer in the UK over the next few years.

An exclusive interview with Driscoll’s managing director EMEA Russell Allwell will feature in FPJ issue 9.