For one year now, the traditional company Hausladen Fruchthandelsgesellschaft from Munich has been part of the Westfalia Fruit International Group. Co-managing director Aldo Empirico told FreshPlaza.de, among other things, what it means to now belong to one of the largest avocado companies in the world. The company benefits, among other things, from a worldwide network as well as from its in-house research department.
Christoph Buchner and Aldo Empirico
What has changed as a result of the integration of your company into Westfalia Fruit International?
Aldo Empirico: We are now part of a global company with a vertically integrated supply chain and the largest avocado footprint in the world. Since our integration into Westfalia Fruit International, we have experienced strong growth. We benefit from the knowledge and production as well as sales capabilities of our colleagues spread around the world. As avocado experts, Westfalia Fruit has a renowned research department, Westfalia Technological Services, which was founded in 1988. It is the world's largest privately funded research unit for subtropical fruits. The dedicated team of scientists and technicians focuses on variety development, innovation and environmental issues, and plays a central role in shaping the future of the global avocado industry. We are now able to share this knowledge with our customers and help them grow their businesses in a sustainable way.
What distinguishes Westfalia Fruit's exotic fruits, especially those marketed under the "Struwwelpeter" brand?
Empirico: We have been operating under the name Westfalia Fruit since January. Westfalia Fruit International is the largest avocado company in the world and is one of the largest and most important producers, marketers and ripeners of avocados in the world. We produce on four continents in 16 countries and refine and market our assortment which includes, besides avocado, other ripening exotics like mango, papaya as well as other exotics like pomegranate, lychee and other products. The brand Struwwelpeter has been a traditional brand for over 50 years, which we have always used for the marketing of fruits with special quality characteristics. The focus is on excellent taste, and depending on the product, the coloration, caliber, and, in the case of citrus fruits, the type of treatment, etc. are also important. Sustainable cultivation is a basic requirement.
Which exotic fruits, apart from avocados, are particularly in demand at the moment?
Empirico: Avocados have been experiencing an upswing for years now, with double-digit growth rates. What is very encouraging is that the countries with the largest consumption -with over 4 kg per capita- consumption still shows a lot of room to grow. Processed avocado products such as oils, guacamole and frozen avocado are also growing very strongly. In addition to avocado, papaya has also had a strong year. This exotic fruit is enjoying a strong increase in sales, which is mainly driven by the fact that it has now been included in the product range of most retail chains almost all year round. The mango is of course still one of the most popular exotic fruits.
Where do you source your avocados?
Empirico: Westfalia has the most diverse avocado cultivation area with its own production in established countries like Peru, Mozambique, USA, Chile, South Africa and also in developing regions such as Colombia and Portugal. One advantage of our extensive production base and integrated global value chain is that Westfalia is able to supply the market 52 weeks a year from two sourcing areas, delivering consistent, high-quality fruit. In Mexico and other areas, we also have strong packing houses and/or procurement teams on the ground to ensure the most stable supply possible for our customers from around the world.
This picture shows how internationally connected the company is. Credit: Westfalia Fruit International
Who are your customers?
Empirico: Westfalia supplies a wide variety of customers worldwide: from food retailers to food service suppliers and processing companies to the cosmetics industry (with oils). Our category management, as well as our qualities and expertise, make us the preferred supply partner among retail customers, as the focus is on further expanding the avocado market and meeting market demand.
What has Corona changed over the past year compared to previous years? Have there been any major logistical challenges?
Empirico: As with all suppliers, times were unpredictable in all sectors, during the pandemic. Last year, there was a time when the lack of containers was an issue. Our global teams were able to manage these circumstances and ensure that our avocados arrived at their destinations on time and in top quality. The logistical challenges have also not stopped us from entering new markets. For example, last year we successfully exported the first avocados from Colombia to South Korea.
What innovations will there be in 2022?
Empirico: In general, we can say that we are constantly looking for innovations to find out how we can develop our service to customers in the most sustainable and efficient way. Westfalia not only supplies fresh avocados to the global market, but we also produce various processed products such as avocado puree, avocado ice cream, high-quality oils and avocado mayonnaise, which could be very interesting for the German market.
For more information:
Christoph Buchner / Aldo Empirico
Westfalia Fruit GmbH
Tel: +49 (0) 89 72014-0
Fax: +49 (0) 89 72014-50