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Camille Herouard, of the Plumtastic project:
"A unique experience in a fruit category that frequently disappoints""The stonefruit market is marked by sharp fluctuations, since the fruit cannot be stored for a long time, so the volumes must arrive at the right time and you have to be able to react," explains Camille Herouard, head of marketing at Star Fruits, in France, and part of the project Plumtastic, under the Metis brand.
"The demand for summer fruit also has many ups and downs, as it depends almost entirely on the weather. Moreover, we compete against many other sorts of fruit that are on the market at around the same time. It is a difficult market in which it isn't always easy to plan things in advance, and that is the reason why there is not usually much investment in marketing projects and stonefruit brands in the sector," she adds.
The Metis® plum brand was launched in 2014. "We were convinced of the potential of the varieties of the Glen's Bradford program in California. At first glance, they look like plums, but they also have a little bit of apricot that gives them a very good taste and a nice texture: firm, crisp and juicy."
According to Camille Herouard, they soon realised that they had something completely new in their hands; a new food experience with an array of different skin and pulp colours and new flavours. So they decided to market these premium fruits under the name Metis, which refers to its nature as a hybrid between plums and apricots. "With Metis® and its diversity of flavours and colours, we can offer a mix of sensations. But the main purpose of Metis® is to offer a consistent premium taste experience in a fruit category that often disappoints the consumer, since it is not uncommon to end up buying plums that are sour, tasteless or whose quality is inconsistent," she points out.
When this project started, they collaborated with BQ Genetics, in California, which is responsible for development programs for new varieties, using only natural methods, such as hand pollination or the use of bees as a pollination vector. Star Fruits in France and Rústicas del Guadalquivir in Spain are co-owners of the Metis® brand and organised the licensing system in Europe in order to develop these varieties and ensure a regular and safe supply of high quality fruit. There are four production companies and distributors involved in this organization: Royal in Spain, Blue Whale in France and Zani and Minguzzi in Italy.
Under the Metis® brand, there are 4 families: Metis® Oxy, a red-fleshed and dark-skinned plum; Metis® Safari, a plum with an unusual green and red mottled skin and pink flesh; Metis® Tonic, a plum with a refreshing yellow flesh and red skin, and Metis® Aroma, with all kinds of skin and flesh colours, but particularly intense and aromatic.
Questioned on what she believes makes Metis stand out from other brands, Camille Herouard has no doubts: "the world-renowned Glen's Bradford Variety Development Program is our main asset in differentiating ourselves. With around 15,000 new selections every year and the painstaking work of our technicians in Europe to select the best varieties and define a quality specification, we can guarantee constant innovation, with a continuous improvement in terms of quality and agronomy."
"We also propose a wide range of varieties, with four variety families to ensure that each consumer will find the one they like best. We can supply a full range of plums from early summer in June until late autumn in November. In the medium term, we have the ambition to be able to supply all year round by importing from countries in the southern hemisphere."
For Camille, this is only possible "by bringing together leading companies in a common cross-border project under a single brand, allowing the parties interested to strive to provide a consistent supply of premium fruit and ensure consumer satisfaction."
The most important markets for Metis are currently the UK and Germany, which usually consume plums all year round and where their native varieties are quite different. Regarding Asia, where stonefruit, and especially plums, has recently been getting a lot of buzz, Camille Herouard believes that "there is a lot of potential in the Asian markets, of course, but they are too far away and the competition can be very hard. We are starting to explore these third markets, but we still have a lot to do in Europe."
For more information:
84130 Le Pontet. France.
Publication date: 8/11/2017
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