BerryWorld® currently source berries from approximately 30 countries to ensure the continuous supply of berry varieties 52-week a year. The Group owns growing operations in The Netherlands whilst working with a small number of large-scale growers around the world, some of which have been supplying BerryWorld since its inception in 1994.
“We are berry specialists; berries are literally our world. We supply the core soft fruit range all year round, so strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries; and are also suppliers of niche berries and specialities, including pineberries, strasberries, redcurrants and cranberries when in season”, says Wil Beekers, CEO Growing and Packing division at BerryWorld Group.
The BerryWorld Group also owns a prepared fruit business, PrepWorld. Which supplies ready-to-eat fruit to the UK market. The business was set-up with a focus on soft fruit but now it leads the way in offering the widest range of products in the UK market. “We are proud of our range, encompassing over 40 different fruits and we are continually bringing new, innovative products to market in response to changing consumer needs,” says Ben Olins, CEO Prepared fruit division at BerryWorld Group.
“Our grower relationships are an integral part of our business and, as growers ourselves, we speak the same “language.” Working collaboratively together and sharing best practices is essential to ensuring high yielding plants for growers and high-quality produce for consumers”, says Beekers.
Since the establishment of BerryWorld in the UK in 1994, BerryWorld has grown from a small UK based business into a global group of companies with marketing desks in 8 countries: UK, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, South Africa, Australia, and North America.
BerryWorld also has strategic alliances in key geographies which generally cover the growing and commercialisation of its exclusive varieties. “We currently supply over 35 territories across four continents via our marketing desks and strategic partnerships. In those markets we have contributed to the growth of the berry category with the customers we serve, which tend to be either retailers #1 or #2 in the market,” says Adrian Olins, CEO BerryWorld division at BerryWorld Group.
BerryWorld supply berries both under the retailers’ own-brand, and under the BerryWorld consumer brand, which has grown from strength to strength since being launched in 2015 in the UK and is now available in 18 markets across four continents: North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
“We also supply high-quality branded berries to premium wholesale outlets across mainland Europe from our European distribution centre in The Netherlands. Our Beekers Berries brand has a long history of supplying high quality berries to premium non-retail customers, covering both the core berry range and niche berries such as pineberries and strasberries,” says Beekers.
Even though BerryWorld proprietary and exclusive varieties represent a high proportion of their supply, over 60 per cent, the company also has exclusive relationships with third party programmes to fulfil berry demand with premium quality varieties all year round.
“We firmly believe that a strong varietal approach is key to drive value and differentiation in the berry market. For over 25 years, we have worked in partnership with Europe’s leading strawberry breeding programme, Edward Vinson and in 2001 we established our own berry breeding programme, BerryWorld Plus, a joint venture with Edward Vinson and Hall Hunter. In more recent years, we have also secured exclusive rights to third-party breeding programmes such as Mountain Blue (MBO) blueberries, which is world renowned for its premium southern highbush blueberry varieties”, says Sam Rowe, CEO Varieties division at BerryWorld Group.
BerryWorld varieties are widely known for their high quality and are praised by retailers and consumers alike. They have been awarded on multiple occasions, with the most recent recognition earlier this year as well-known variety, Diamond Jubilee/BerryWorld Gem ® received a Superior Taste Award from the International Taste Institute in Brussels.
Current health trends are supporting berry demand globally given soft fruit’s nutrition, convenience, and versatility.
“If we take the UK berry market as an example, berries now account for nearly 30 percent of fruit sales and are outperforming the total fruit growth. We have seen a huge growth on the online channel which has nearly doubled over the last year, with blueberries performing particularly well,” says Adrian Olins.
Looking forward, as restrictions begin to ease, it looks like a summer of increased entertaining at home and staycations, which nicely aligns to some of the key berry consumption occasions such as desserts and healthy snacking. “We believe that berry health benefits will continue to play a key role in driving soft fruit demand and are confident the category is poised for continued growth”, adds Olins.
Coming from a strong year on year growth trajectory for the last 7 years, in 2020, COVID-19 had a significant negative impact on the prepared fruit market, especially on the On-The-Go (OTG), convenience mission.
PrepWorld were quick to respond to changing consumer habits, launching multiple new products throughout 2020, and finding new avenues for growth typically led by in-home meal occasions. “2020 was not an easy year,” says Ben Olins.
“However, I’m particularly proud of the way the business responded to COVID-19, ensuring uninterrupted supply to retailers with COVID-safe protocols, launching new lines, winning new business and we’re delighted to see volumes have now made a strong recovery.”
BerryWorld’s recently unveiled European distribution centre, located in Made in The Netherlands, has been recognised for its sustainable build and design with a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification, a top award for environmentally friendly design.
“As we commit to growing a sustainable and regenerative berry world, we aim to provide maximum quality to our customers with minimal environmental impact and this achievement will help us towards that goal,” says Beekers.