Karel Bolckmans, Special Fruit:

“Working on year-round supply of taste varieties”

Special Fruit and breeder Fresh Forward have entered into a partnership to develop and market a new strawberry variety. A unique variety, which the soft fruit specialist says incorporates all aspects of a premium strawberry. “Great taste, shelf life and appearance,” says Karel Bolckmans, Business Development Director at Special Fruit. The new variety, grown by a few carefully selected growers in the Mediterranean, is available from early January until the end of May. The strawberry will appear on the market in its own special packaging. At the moment, the working name FF-1201 is used, until there is a definitive name.

Taste is still of the utmost importance when buying strawberries and soft fruit. Special Fruit, offering strawberries and berries under the BerryFresh label year-round, believes taste is key. “That’s why we build strategic partnerships with producers who share this vision with us. The productions are expanded globally, just like our own production in Portugal, so we can supply retailers with special and taste varieties the entire year.”

Karel says the circumstances in Portugal are very suitable for the production of taste varieties. The plantation is close to the border with Spain, where Special Fruit has its own packing station. “That’s why we can also respond quickly and flexibly to demand from the market.” The Kwanza raspberry, for which Special Fruit has the exclusive cultivation rights in Portugal, is grown in two locations in the country. The soft fruit specialist also sees a growing demand for organic, a growth which is expected to continue in the future. Demand for organic blueberries is especially high, and Special Fruit has its own organic blueberry grower in Portugal.

New packaging
BerryFresh is available year-round, in an wide and growing range. The quality of the varieties, combined with the advent of new varieties, cause revenues to increase steadily. Movements in society towards healthy eating also contribute to this, the soft fruit specialist says. “Soft fruit has evolved from an exclusive speciality to a product that is part of the daily need of today’s demanding consumer.” Responding to these developments, Special Fruit has updated the BerryFresh packagings in such a way that they’re in line with this health trend. Not only in terms of design, but also when it comes to function. Resealable top-seals and shakers were introduced, which makes having a snack even easier.

25th anniversary
Special Fruit celebrates its 25th anniversary. In 1990, the brothers François and Patrick Maes ventured into the trade of ‘special’ fruit and vegetable varieties. What began with the import of one air shipment of strawberries from California, turned into a big player on the European market. Special Fruit is looking ahead to a healthy future, and is looking across the border. The company focuses on its own production in Portugal, strengthens its partnerships with growers in Spain, and will soon start a packing service in the Netherlands.

More information:
Special Fruit
Karel Bolckmans

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