A major Australian fresh produce company says it has big plans for its most recent products, including the intention of taking their new banana brands internationally.
Perfection Fresh last month launched three new brands; purchasing the licencing rights to the Little Gem™ and Havana™ varieties, as well as the company's purchasing of Pacific Coast Produce Marketing, which provides the opportunity to license The Red Tip™ Ecoganic™ banana.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Simonetta says the banana category has for many years been one of the biggest in supermarkets, so Perfection Fresh can now offer a point of difference.
"As a consumer, I think the category is quite stagnant, meaning when you look at other produce like tomatoes, apples or table grapes there is more to offer and excite consumers these days," Mr Simonetta said. "That doesn't mean that we and others will no longer sell Cavendish bananas, we think that we can grow the category by bringing new varieties, ones that have different attributes such as size, flavour and appeal to a different consumer. But ultimately, our aim is to keep growing the category so that it excites consumers and all stakeholders are more successful from within the category."
Photo: Michael Simonetta speaking at the recent Australian Banana Industry Congress in Cairns.
Currently, according to the latest figures from Hort Innovation's Statistics Handbook, there are no recorded exports of bananas from Australia, with supply staying on the domestic market. But Mr Simonetta says Perfection Fresh will be looking internationally with all three of these brands, just like the Calypso mango, with each of the new range of bananas having different flavour profiles.
"The Little Gem™ is perfect kids’ lunchbox sized banana, and has a different flavour profile to others," he said. "Havana™ has a higher flavour and increased shelf life and does not oxidise when cut. We will promote their unique qualities, and by doing so, we will help grow the category."
Photo: Ecoganic™ banana
The Ecoganic™ banana is available Australia-wide and distinguished by its signature red wax tip. But it is not just unique in appearance, but also in the way it is produced. The farming system was formed by Frank and Dianne Sciacca in Far North Queensland to remove chemicals (synthetic or organic) and that’s both good for the environment and for the consumer. Ecoganic™ farming set out to minimise the degradation and decline of reef and soil health caused by conventional growing practices.
"Listening to Frank when we had the first meeting was inspirational, I knew nothing about them, other than that they had a red-tip “ Mr Simonetta said. "I used to walk past them in the supermarket, the way that they are grown means they yield less than traditional-grown bananas, so they are at a slight premium, but they taste better, as shown by independent surveys, and they last longer - that's two great attributes."
Photo: Little Gem™ banana
The launch of the brands will be accompanied by consumer awareness and education to ensure the story of these bananas get through to consumers. Mr Simonetta says his company is finding that people are looking to indulge more in premium products that offer them a good eating experience.
"Consumers, post-COVID-19 are eating more time at home, which I believe will continue," Mr Simonetta said. "And as such looking for premium products that bring a point of difference. But, in saying that, the last thing we want to do is make these products unaffordable."
Perfection Fresh is a family operated business that started 43 years ago, now with farms right across Australia producing specialised brands across a range of categories including berries, mangoes, table grapes, citrus, tomatoes, mushrooms and several vegetable lines. Mr Simonetta says brand innovation has been important to the company's success.
"Historically, there has been little to no brands in produce in Australia," he said. "There are a lot of names on a box, which is very important at wholesale level. Our challenge with our brands is to move further up the value chain and create loyalty through brand extension in different categories. I really like the quote from Seth Godin that says: 'a brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another'. That is really what we have tried to achieve in establishing brands using trademarks to differentiate and add value to the product, and in turn the category."
Mr Simonetta explains that there is a big value in having a consistent and common brand throughout different categories in fresh produce
“In most instances, when you are selling a commodity, the primary driver or differentiator is price, and with some varieties, it is a race to the bottom,” he said. “We don’t want to be in that race. We want to stay out of that. The best way to do that is to introduce products that have unique features and provide different experiences to provide value to the consumer. Most importantly, it allows you to invest in growing the product through targeted marketing activities.”