Hortifrut has 25% of the world blueberry market

Hortifrut, the agricultural exporting firm and world leader in blueberries, wants to conquer the world. After having merged with the blueberries subsidiary of Talsa de Peru - which is part of the Rocio Group, owned by the Quevedo family, in the neighboring country - it is achieving this. It already has 25% of the world market for these fruits, and went from having a cash flow of US $60 million to US $137 million in the 2017-2018 season, and a turnover of US $600 million in that same period.

On Thursday, June 28, the merger between the two companies was finalized. With this merger, the Quevedo family now controls 17.13% of the Chilean firm, while the Moller control 22.4 %, the Elberg 8%, and Del Rio 9.5%. Other families that are not in the agreement to control the firm, but are historical partners, are the Swetts (8.8%) and the Novions (8.3%).

As a result of this alliance, the CEO of Grupo Rocio, Ulises Quevedo, joined the board of nine members. On Monday, July 2, the first board meeting with the Peruvian executive was held. In this meeting, the board outlined the company's development plan.

"This growth in Peru, due to this merger, and the production expansions in China, Mexico, and the United States, will allow Hortifrut to increase its sales significantly to more than US $700 million in the coming years," said the president of the company, Victor Moller.

With this merger, Hortifrut adds 2,200 hectares in Peru to the production that the firm already has in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, the United States, Morocco, and China, among other markets. According to estimates, the company has more than 4,000 hectares of its own in production. This, without taking into account the lands of its associates and third parties that contribute to this berry empire.

The company commercializes its fruits in 37 countries and has more than 500 global clients, a presence that it wants to reinforce and increase. However, its competitors are also growing. "Having and maintaining a 25% market share over time is a reasonable and feasible goal," said Moller. The company has managed to capture the tastes of different palates over time, he added. According to Moller and Quevedo, there is an appetite for blueberries and for healthy foods in general. There are markets with very large growths, such as China, where Hortifrut has a joint venture with Joy Wing Mau and demand is so high that "that market's level and volume will be equal to or greater than that of the United States, which is the largest market in the world," said Moller.

And there are still unexplored markets, such as India, which will they plan to enter in the coming years. Even in other continents, such as Europe, where there is a tradition of consuming this fruit, there are markets that are just discovering this product, such as France. "In Latin America there are 400 million people who have just begun to know this product," said the Chilean businessman, who also highlighted the potential of Eastern Europe or the Middle East.

The company analyzes other crops
The association with the Peruvian group opens the door to grow in other crops. Which ones? "High-value products, healthy foods that contribute to people's health and quality of life," says the businessman. Since the Rocío Group produces, among other things, avocados and asparagus, these vegetables are a natural option for Hortifrut, which, as Moller points out, originally grew asparagus.

Source: El Mercurio

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