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Dirk Salentin of biofruit GmbH sees the bio-industry as sustainable

‘A long-term solution should make sense for everybody concerned’

With their striking presence at the Cologne trade fair ANUGA, their award as a member of the ethics society and, last but not least, the continuous development of the online business, 2017 was a successful year for Dirk Salentin, CEO of biofruit GmbH. Even if the shelf prices in the discount sector and the substantial investments for Ready-2-Eat exotics continue to be a major challenge, the committed organic entrepreneur looks to the future in a very positive way. "We're taking little steps forward," he says.

The organic industry is growing. This has become very clear through all data and figures. More and more consumers are turning to organic products and organic food is being offered to ever larger markets and outlets. The acreage for organic fruit and organic vegetables is growing at a rapid pace - adding thousands of hectares each year, also due to rising supply and demand in the food retail. Products such as turmeric, ginger, garlic and mushrooms are already available in large quantities, similar to exotics, which unfortunately currently are not ready to be offered in a Ready-2-Eat way. The problem is that conventional technology can not simply be used in the organic sector because of its demanding certifications. “Bio is still in its infancy, although much is already invested in new technology. But for us there is a risk that large investments necessarily require large sales numbers. That's why we sometimes are a bit reticent,” says Salentin.

CEO and company founder Dirk Salentin at the booth at the Anuga trade fair in Cologne

Trustworthy & transparent
With its own service solutions, biofruit GmbH supplies a group of medium-sized grocery retail chains nationwide. Many of these service solutions - especially in product staging and category management - are redefining ‘bio’ within the value chain. Biofruit stands for a special kind of 'premium bio products' in terms of quality and service. With various locations, the company tries to use regional partners as much as possible, thus avoiding longer routes. This also applies to packaging materials. “We mostly offer loose or banded goods. However, we need to make sure that everything remains comfortable and easy for the consumer,” says Salentin. To give an example, he talks about their cocktail tomatoes, where the consumers’ enthusiasm is not so great compared to pre-packaged goods. But here, too, there are several appropriate fully ecological packaging solutions such as -for example- grass-based cardboard trays.

The biofruit GmbH team at their booth at the Anuga trade fair

Another challenge that is more difficult to overcome is the falling prices of many organic products. The range is growing rapidly, both from the discounters, who are offering more and more organic goods on a large scale, and the large retail chains, who are promoting organic products with an ever increasing success and who can offer very low prices due to their larger quantities. For the organic food trade, it would be necessary to reinvent oneself, to build up an exclusive organic assortment and to stage it accordingly. You have to stand out. To simply offer organic products is no longer enough, says Salentin. To have own biofruit brand labels with energy specifications, requirements and quality seals is one way to differentiate oneself. However, the differences between the individual bio-seals are often hard to explain. Nevertheless, they are very important to ensure traceability and transparency to the consumer. Salentin: "As a rule, the stricter the cultivation guidelines, the more trustworthy the seal."

Biofruit GmbH recently received an award and was accepted into the Ethics Society. In particular, Dirk Salentin cites a phrase that sums up the value of his organic products: “Everything we do has to be such that our grandchildren can carry on with it. That actually excludes large profit margins, but then again it also means we cannot work uneconomically. We are of the opinion that our children have to have a Planet Earth to live on as well. The long-term solution we offer should have value for all parties and partners."

Biofruit GmbH was founded in 2009 by Dirk Salentin and initially focused on the entire food retail sector. The company, headquartered in Düren, now has distribution centers in Kehl, Munich and Rotterdam and today supplies mainly medium-sized supermarkets and catering companies in Germany as well as some in Norway and Austria. Under its own brands "biofruit", "biogarden" and "bionissimo" the company offers a complete service including range management, advertising and range planning, product staging and expert advice. To offer the full range of fruits and vegetables, the company works with both regional producers and foreign producer cooperatives.

For more information:
biofruit GmbH
Dirk Salentin
Am Langen Graben 5, D-52353 Düren
Telephone: +49 (0) 2421 / 69 35 4-0
Telefax: +49 (0) 2421 / 69 35 4-18

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