When the state of alarm was decreed in Spain due to the coronavirus health crisis, the closure of the HORECA channel caused many food companies to stop their activities almost completely. While this has proven to have had a great impact on business, it can also bring opportunities to diversify and seek new solutions.
Such is the case of the Nuttra group, a Spanish company based in Vitoria, which has been involved for decades in the import and distribution of alcoholic beverages. In its growth process, the company had been acquiring business units linked to the food sector (a meat plant and a potato processing plant), but after the coronavirus brought everything to a halt, it carried out out a thorough market study and it has just opened a division for the marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables.
"During the lockdown, we have had time to look into the fruit and vegetable market and its operators," says Atilio Saldias, director of the fresh fruit and vegetable division of Grupo Nuttra. “We have created a division that will be devoted to importing fruits and vegetables from the most relevant production areas worldwide in order to distribute them in the Spanish market. It will also ship Spanish products to markets inside and outside the European Union, such as the Middle East and Asia, and arrange the direct marketing from the products' origin to various international markets, minimizing the role of intermediaries.”
In order to carry out the fruit and vegetable marketing operations, the company has opened offices in Barcelona. “Most of the Spanish operators are here. We are also considering other locations, but from a commercial point of view, we chose Barcelona. Our division is already operational and we are very enthusiastic not only about the creation of this business unit, but also with our ambitious growth projects,” says Atilio Saldias.
“We are already loading citrus in South Africa before the harvests begin in Spain. Soon we will start working with Italian grapes, given that the harvest is starting. We are also loading limes from Brazil, which we will distribute all year round as well, completing the programs with fruit from Mexico and Vietnam. We will work with Chilean kiwifruit (whatever is possible at this point of the season) and later, we will continue with Italy and Greece. Also, we have already started getting ready for the autumn and winter programs with Spanish seasonal products, as well as with a line of exotics that includes pineapples and mangoes," he says.
According to Atilio, the fact that large consortia are making moves such as the acquisition of small companies in this sector is creating opportunities for smaller operators. “Our fresh fruit and vegetable division has been very well received. New things are usually welcome in this sector, especially if they are presented as an alternative to the traditional, to those large groups that dominate the market. We want to offer a direct link to the production, without intermediaries and with a highly customized and approachable service, something that is highly appreciated by European and international operators. In our fruit and vegetable world, the human factor must set the foundations for any business and its development.”