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Looking for new opportunities, particularly for key product range
Chile's largest fruit exporter to be showcased at London Produce Show
The company will be appearing at the forthcoming London Produce Show, which will take place in the UK capital from 4-6 June, together with its European subsidiary Fruit Growers Alliance (FGA) and US fruit breeder Sun World International LLC (Sun World).
As well as improving contacts with existing customers and consolidating its position in the country, Gesex’s Felipe Casanova said the exporter would be looking for new opportunities in the UK, particularly for its key product range.
“We’re aiming to keep learning about the UK market, while also showcasing some of the new varietal innovations that we have achieved in all of our products, including table grapes, cherries and other stonefruit,” he said.
Table grapes represent the biggest single export product for Gesex in the UK, with the grower exporting approximately 4,500 tonnes of red and green grapes to the market through FGA every year.
Already a hugely important market for the company – representing 15% of total export volumes and 20% of total turnover – Casanova believes further growth for Chilean fruits exports can still be achieved in the UK despite the mature nature of the market.
“Although we are talking about a mature market, supermarkets are trying to reduce the number of suppliers and increase the volume with the existing ones,” he said.
“We are confident we will keep growing with both red and green seedless grapes and we see the UK market as one of our targets specifically for red seedless.”
As a grower, some 85% of the total volume of fruit exported by Gesex is sourced from its own production, meaning that the company can help facilitate direct contact between European grocery retailers and Chilean growers.
“In contrast with traditional exporters, our growers have full visibility as regards the customers we are serving and the results they receive – this acts as motivation for our growers to keep improving quality as they will be rewarded as a result,” he explained.
However, innovation is vital to the continued growth of the business and Casanova said that the company was constantly looking for new varieties of table grape and stonefruit that could cover gaps in supply.
Like Gesex, Sun World will also be present at the London Produce Show and the company’s Executive Vice President David Marguleas said its appearance would serve to both highlight the work being done by the US breeder and the varieties that it has licensed to growers across the globe.
“Sun World’s objective in participating in the show, and in making the opportunity available to our licensees, is to create increased visibility for Sun World’s proprietary varieties and brands as well as for Gesex and our other 52 marketer licensees worldwide,” he said.
FGA, which was established by Gesex and fellow Chilean exporter San Clemente in 2008, with offices in Ridderkerk in the Netherlands and Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, UK, will also be on hand to highlight its role in bringing Chilean growers closer to European consumers.
According to FGA’s Paul Nicholls, the joint venture expects to import some 400,000 cartons of fruit to the UK this season, as well as a further 600,000 cartons to the European mainland from Chile and other sources.
The company, which counts the largest grocery retailers in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and Spain among its client roster, is focusing on developing its direct line of communication with European retailers and shoppers through what Nicholls described as the “least cost direct sourcing model”.
“By delivering direct to market combined with a marketing strategy that is focused on the needs of European consumers, I believe we can expect to see further growth for Chilean products in Europe in the near future,” Nicholls added.
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