“Distrimex is a family business specialized in the import-export of fresh fruits and vegetables. The company exists since 1975 and is now run by the third generation. We turned to export from the beginning of the creation. Our revenue was divided as follows: 90% of exports towards Europe and 10% on the French market. We turned to big export over time,” explains Nathalie Casal, director of Distrimex.
The company packs the merchandise under its own brands, which are Belpom, Soleia and Shona. Although the apple remains the company’s flagship product, Distrimex also offers other products to its clients, such as stone fruits, grapes, kiwis, citrus fruits, representing 20,000 tons of the 50,000 tons exported annually.
“Geopolitics pushes us to be present in all countries”
In April-May-June, Distrimex starts exporting Spanish products, then French products like the apricots, grapes and plums, mainly to the European market. From August, the company markets the French apple and exports it to Europe and overseas. “Our main export countries are the Middle East, Malaysia, Asia, India, the French islands, Africa and South America. We must be present in all countries because we are affected by the geopolitical ups and downs. We can no longer depend on one country. This year, India was a big market for us due to the embargo with the Chinese apple. We suffered from the sudden stop of exports to Russia a few years ago. No client represents more than 10% of our revenue, it’s too dangerous,” explains Nathalie.
“We are developing our supply”
Besides trying to expand its customer base on all continents, Distrimex has also been wanting to diversify its supply for a few years now. “We are developing our supply, which used to be mainly French and Spanish. We import a lot of fresh fruits from Italy, Eastern Europe, Chili and South Africa in order to meet the demand of our clients all year round with the other hemisphere. Our products are packaged in our various brands. This way, our clients do not have to worry about the origin or the quality; they know that by ordering from Distrimex, the quality standards are respected, no matter the origin.”
Being present everywhere also requires us to propose a diversified offer, in order to satisfy a heterogeneous clientele. “For a few years now, we have been facing increasing competition. Today, the price is a major element in the negotiation, particularly in the Middle East. That is why, in addition to the French apples which are a high-end product, we also offer cheaper products from other origins to our clients so they have the possibility to choose. On the contrary, Asia wants products with high added value. We must be able to propose a product corresponding to the needs of each client,” explains Nathalie.
But Distrimex also plans to develop imports on the continent. “Thanks to our offices in Chili and South Africa, we are now really trying to develop import on the French and European market. This way, we will really come full circle.”
The company obtained the Ecocert certification and wants to develop its organic range for the big export.
“The brand and the regularity of the supply are what makes us stand out from the competition”
“Since we went international, a large part of our work consists in cross-trading. In order to limit the costs and guarantee fresh products, we no longer store in Avignon.”
“We control all stages of the process: from the production to the delivery. Traveling is essential to control the merchandise, meet the producers and select them for the quality of their production. The end customer is looking for a regular supply and quality. It is important to diversify the range and origin of the products.”
“Competition is fierce and there are fewer and fewer clients. Our strength resides in the regularity and diversity of the supply under our brands.”
In order to guarantee the quality of the products, the marketing teams travel to the loading sites to check the quality “because quality is what keeps the customer loyal in the end.”
“It is a constantly evolving profession which requires a lot of involvement, flexibility, rigor, seriousness, open-mindedness and the ability to adapt quickly. I’ve always been exposed to it, since my grand-father’s generation, and I would not change it for the world,” concludes Nathalie.