Mark Tweddle - Jupiter Group

From tractor driver to CEO - What's next for Jupiter?

In the last 12 months UK based Jupiter Group has made many important steps forward to becoming a very big player in the global fruit market. Following February’s announcement on being awarded the exclusive ARRA production and marketing rights by Grapa Varieties in India, Jupiter announced their chosen growing partner as Sahyadri Farms earlier this month.

Mark and Yvonne Tweddle with the Sayhadri senior management team in India

India is the second largest grape producing country in the world and Jupiter is the only company which is producing new varieties there. “India produces 20% of the total table grape supply but has no new varieties,” explains Jupiter CEO and Group MD Mark Tweddle. “Black seedless runs in the local market until the last week of March, with the new varieties we believe we will be able to supply the local market until June.

“You can grow 15,000 acres just for the domestic market, opportunities here are huge. The focus is on exporting as only 6% of Indian grapes are exported at the moment. India can grow fantastic Crimson but have never really done it as the local market has always been for black and green. It also has the advantage of being in the northern hemisphere but with gape production at the time of the southern hemisphere, this produces fantastic colouring due to the lower temperatures.”

Mark and Yvonne Tweddle

Growth timeline
Jupiter Marketing has quite a story behind it, starting as a very small trader in fruit from South Africa into the UK, they have become a major grower of, among other things, citrus, grapes, kiwifruit, cherries and blueberries and with sales offices across the globe.

Having started as a tractor driver during holidays from university, Mark got a taste for the fresh produce business. He also worked at UniVeg and Minor Weir & Willis during his time at uni.

Jupiter was established in April 2003, and in 2004 moved to their current location in Newport, Shropshire. In 2008 they started selling outside the UK, being part of a grower group in South Africa they had sold fruit well in the UK and were looking further afield.

In 2009 the Nancy Tweddle Foundation was set up which supports groups in the countries where Jupiter have interests. The foundation was set up in memory of Mark’s late grandmother and funds sporting teams, community teams and clubs of any kind from adults or children, disabled or able bodied. Click here to find out more about the people and groups that the foundation has helped.

Photo: Mark and Yvonne receiving the Track 200 award in 2019

In 2010 the company opened an office in Cape Town and acquired their own export licence to start exporting South African fruit and in 2013 they also got an export licence to export directly out of Chile

2012 saw Jupiter enter the fresh prepared market with Jupiter Prepared which supplies companies such as Costa and Café Nero.

2014 saw a real change in what the company were doing, this was when they got their first new varieties of grape in India. Growing grapes on a 57 acre farm, it was the biggest grape farm in India at the time, with  17 acres of Crimson, while there was only 19 acres grown in the whole of India.

The Jupiter team at Fruit Logistica 2019, Mark was not able to attend after a sports injury, they brought a cardboard cut of him instead

In 2015 was a big year when Jupiter got involved with licencing varieties starting with the Maylen ® in Chile, 2016 saw the company enter a partnership in a 300 acres Chilean grape farm and they also became member of AnaChile, a breeder project for Maylem®.  They gained the master licence for ARRA in Greece which they now have exclusivity on as well as 300 acres of grape plantations in the country. Also in 2016 Jupiter gained the first ARRA licence in India which has recently been upgraded to exclusivity. In 2017 they opened procurement offices in Argentina and Chile.

Jupiter acquired South African company Bonaire in 2018, now named Jupiter SA Farming, which gave them a total of 2500 acres of citrus in South Africa. Also in this year the company got an exclusive grape licence with a grape supplier in Spain, growing rights to a seedless lemon variety and opened sales offices in Hong Kong and Russia.

So far in 2019 the company has joint venture project of  1000 acre grape farm in Morocco which only grows new varieties. Just last month Jupiter announce the acquisition of Dutch company Cool Fresh bringing product expertise to the group in pineapples, melons and limes.

Jupiter now grow grapes in 7 different countries on a large scale, the aim is to be able to supply a 12 supply of their own grapes, all new varieties within 2 years.

Mark and Yvonne Tweddle with Kurt-Lee Arendse and Ryan Oosthuizen from Springbrook Severns Rugby club

Strong values
Jupiter may be growing very fast and have investments across the globe, but the core values remain strong within the company. “We have very strong values as a company and follow our mission statement very closely,” said Mark.  “From growers and packhouse staff to management level, we see the company as one team with one vision, not individual departments. It’s all about working hard and enjoying life, recognising success and learning from mistakes.

“Our values will stay the same regardless of scale, we want to farm to better standards while at the same time improving the communities. In the places where we farm the communities don’t have the opportunities that we have, so it is important that we give them an education and good living standards. It’s about giving people equality and the opportunity to grow and develop, its also about conservation, sustainable production and the improving the environment.”

Jupiter is a fast growing company across lots of different products which is trying to use technology to improve at every level of the chain while still keeping their family ethos and Mark is very hands on in communicating the company values to each member of staff and welcoming them into the company.

“We want to be involved in the growing of our produce not just trading commodities.”

Looking to the future
Looking to the future Mark wants further grow the company be it through acquisitions, full crop management and continuing to add value by centralising operations and maximising efficiency and investment in new varieties across the areas where the group are product experts.

Photo: The team at Madrid Fruit Attraction 2018 

When looking at the global grape market, we see a huge increase in production in counties such as Peru, will there still be a room to expand on a global scale?

“If you can produce a grape to standard that we believe we can and make that into a brand sales will grow, compare it to the Nadercott which is such a great piece of fruit it has created new market, if we can get these new varieties perfect then we can do the same for grapes and create that consumption. Looking at South American production it is only a small part of global production and they focus on Europe and North America, the combined population of Europe and America combined is just half of the population of India. The potential is huge. Jupiter, although based in the UK, supply many markets around the world and Europe is only a small market for our produce. We have sales offices around the world to supply the different markets.”

Jupiter’s most recent acquisition of Cool Fresh came about after they were approached by a company working on behalf of Cool Fresh who were looking sell the business, “It came at the time we were closing the deal with Bonaire in South Africa so we put it on hold until that was completed. With our growth in agriculture we need to increase our sales globally, we were doing that very quickly but the speed of the growth in sales was not keeping up with our growth in production, also Cool Fresh’s product specialist areas were areas where we were not specialist, such as pineapples, melons, limes, avocados, garlic and ginger so it added diversification to the group and it gave us access to a lot more customers.

Photo: Mark tweddle and Hugo Vermeulen in Costa Rica 

“Everywhere that we are product experts we will be growers. Additionally when we talk to other growers and share with them the extent of additional support and expertise we can offer them, they want to become Jupiter growers, but it is importantly their choice.” 

For more information:
Kirsty Fleetwood
Jupiter Group
Tel: +44 (0)1952 822 200 

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