One of the reasons why Sekoya blueberries in China are so popular and often receive higher prices are due to their big size, great flavour next to a shelf life of between 45 to 60 days. This is according to Hans Liekens, value chain and retail manager of Sekoya, who had his hands full at the recent Asia Fruit Logistica show after “overwhelming demand” from retailers across Asia.
The Sekoya team at their booth in Hong Kong.
“We had many retail visitors. Buyers in China are very familiar with Sekoya; they are among the highest priced varieties in the market because people recognise the value. Sekoya varieties are very large in size, very firm, have great taste and a very long shelf life. Our visitors told us ‘Sekoya berries seems to be designed for the Asian market’,” says Liekens
As Chinese and other Asian buyers learn more of the varieties, Sekoya members build their relationships with them directly says Liekens. "Each Sekoya member has their own business model which gives the buyers options and helps maintain a healthy competition. In China we have a new member in Joy Wing Mau who has many retail clients in China and a new member in Australia who both joined our Sekoya network this year. Of our current group of Sekoya members, nearly all serve the Asian market with our Sekoya varieties.”
52 week supply
“An important concept of Sekoya™ is to have fruit supply 52 weeks of the year. Our varieties are grown all over the world. We have varieties that grow in warmer climates (zero-low chill requirements) as well as colder climates (mid-high chill requirements). This allows our members to cover all production regions and source top-quality fruit without supply gaps. Our varieties all deliver the same fruit characteristics, so the consumer can enjoy a very similar eating experience year-round. Sekoya is right on track with its mission to deliver exceptional berries, every day, to all major markets in the world,” says Liekens.
Wide interest across Asia
“We have received a lot of interest from across Asia including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea, the Phillipines, Thailand, the Middle East, and more.. We also met with all the big retail players who were at our stand and had fruitful discussions. Asia Fruit Logistica was much busier than expected for us. The blueberry health benefits in combination with a good taste and shelf life are the key drivers for the steep growth in Asia," states Liekens.
Quality assurance logo
Sekoya added the Livie brand as a quality assurance label, which has just been launched in Germany with supermarket giant REWE. It also attracted great interest in Asia, says Liekens. “The berries have to meet the highest quality standards in order to receive the logo on the package of existing retail brands or Sekoya member labels. To the consumer, the logo signals the fruit is consistently crunchy, really sweet and over 18mm in size with the majority over 20mm."
"Retailers worldwide have approached us many times before looking for consistent quality. Even with the best varieties you can have variations. Fruit in the beginning of the season may taste differently compared to the end, so instead of stretching the production, we bridge the gap by switching to another Sekoya variety and/or production region to assure top quality for a whole year. We then monitor the quality along the entire supply chain to assure a consistently exceptional product with the LIVIE™ Brand” concludes Liekens.