Apart from the competition from relatively cheap shipments of large-scale plantations in Costa Rica and other Latin America-growing areas, there was another problem for Kipepeo: in 2016 and 2017, there was considerable difficulty with the dollar to euro exchange rate. Now this big obstacle is gone and the gaze goes back to the future, said managing director Siegfried Hermann. “The main season for pineapple will go on for a few more weeks. We are seeing that the demand for our product has remained stable in recent years. Our big advantages are, of course, that our goods are both Bio and Fair Trade certified and that they are arriving weekly, fresh, by air.”
Air conditioning and technology
The partnership with smallholders in the East African Republic of Uganda is anything but easy, due to the seasonal weather conditions and the lack of modern technology. Nonetheless, today's quality of the product is very good. Hermann: "Our only variety is the Smooth Cayenne, a variety you can not compare with the usual MD2 variety. No two fruits look the same with our products. Every pineapple has its own face, and as a result, there are no calibrated levels of maturity.” The producers take the goods from the field if they are acceptably matured. This is usually when at least half of the fruit is yellow. “In the rainy season, of course, we have to accept that there is less sun light and the fruit is greener correspondingly. But they will always taste great.”
Another difficulty is the limited agricultural opportunities available. Modern machines or other technical solutions are hardly there. However, Hermann is observing significant developments on East African soil, due in large part to the presence of Kipepeo and the donations of its customers. “Every product we launch has a label with information about our social projects. We use the donations we receive directly to buy rainwater tanks for the smallholders so that they have fresh rainwater right outside their door. That is our passion at this point; to always be at the side of our employees and smallholders.”
Africa & Asia
The Kipepeo company has been represented on African soil since 2002. In addition to the founding of a dried fruits production project in Tanzania, pineapple, bananas and other tropical fruits were grown in Uganda. The company works exclusively with small farmers. The clientele of the company consists mainly of organic wholesalers nationwide and regional, as well as some customers in other European countries. In addition, Kipepeo also sources Southeast Asian fruits from a partner project in Thailand. The main harvest season in Asia is very short in the organic sector, lasting from March to June. In the future, fruit pulps and purees are also to be offered, which are produced directly at the source.
For more information:
Kipepeo Bio & Fair GmbH