Hortifrut wants to continue taking over the world with its partners
When Víctor Moller created Hortifrut, he imagined an ambitious project: supplying berries to the whole world 365 days a year. Today, this goal does not seem far-fetched, but the funny thing is that Moller planned it more than 35 years ago, when the idea of becoming a global platform like Uber or Airbnb was unthinkable.
But Hortifrut succeeded. Today it has about 30 production partners distributed across the world, as well as suppliers and geneticists who are constantly coming up with solutions to make production more efficient and which have allowed the company to market its products in 37 countries. All the fresh berry categories can consequently be supplied to the world's most important markets, reaching more than 500 clients which, in turn, represent hundreds of millions of consumers. This track record has allowed Hortifrut to become the leading producer of blueberries in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as the largest company in the world both in terms of marketing and production.
Its founder and president, Víctor Moller, says that the process has not been easy. He toured the entire world looking for the best partners to join the Hortifrut platform, from genetics to those bringing the product to the supermarket shelves. He thus planted the seed of the firm in the United States, gaining a foothold in the west coast, allowing it to supply a market that can absorb 400 thousand tonnes (the largest in the world). The latest step in that country was the partnership with Munger Brothers. Although the original intention was to merge the berry operations, a society devoted to production was eventually created.
In Europe, back in the year 2000, and together with the largest producer of blueberries in Spain, they created Hortifrut España, which together with the operations they have in Morocco allows them to supply this market.
In Chile, in 2013, it merged with the second largest blueberry exporter of the Southern Hemisphere, VitalBerry, of the Elberg and Del Río families, and at the end of last year they signed the agreement to incorporate the Peruvian group Rocío (Quevedo family) to Hortifrut. At that time, Rocío was that country's biggest blueberry producer, with a volume of 15 thousand tonnes and revenue totalling US $ 100 million in the period from September 2016 to September 2017. According to the latest results up to September 2017, this will allow Hortifrut to double its Ebitda after the merger.
The latest moves have been applauded by the market. In fact, when the agreement was announced in Peru, the firm's shares became more valuable and closed the year with a return of 51.83%.
But the company's expansion plans continue. As Moller says, "we brought Hortifrut's partners in and together we are taking over the world." Now all eyes will also be on Asia, where Hortifrut has reached an agreement with Joy Wing Mau; a leading company in the Chinese fruit industry with 40 distribution centres covering 80 cities and with three million customers. With them they will be able to supply berries to that country practically all year round. Today, Hortifrut has its own production in 10 countries in both hemispheres: China, South Africa, Morocco, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.
Moller assures that the Hortifrut feat could be replicated in other sectors, "Chile has been forced to globalise, to learn different languages, to have a youth open to the world, to quickly enter this world of innovation and technology and not to engage in old and irrational politics, but in modernization," he concludes.
Publication date: 1/16/2018
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