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Raul Calleja, director of Fruit Attraction:

The vending and horticulture sectors have to work together

Raul Calleja has a degree in Economics and Business and is a specialist in Marketing and Sales Management. For seven years, he has successfully directed the Fruit Attraction Festival, an International Fair of Fruit and Vegetables that will be held this year between the 28 and 30 of October in Madrid.

This is the seventh edition of Fruit Attraction and there will be 1,020 exhibiting companies from 25 countries, which represents a 20% increase over the previous year. Additionally, the fair's area has increased by 18% over the last edition and amounts to 32,000 net square meters. What is the key to the success of this event?

In my opinion, there are four reasons for the success of Fruit Attraction. First, the event has always had a clear goal: developing a project for the sector in hand with FEPEX (Spanish Federation of Producers and Exporters of Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers and Live Plants) that brings together the strategies of the sector in Spain.

Additionally, the fair is held in a very convenient month because, in horticulture, October is a month of campaign planning. One should also keep in mind that Fruit Attraction is held in Spain, the largest exporter of fruits and vegetables in the world.

Finally, Fruit Attraction is also successful because we organize it with IFEMA, a professional exhibition organizer that guarantees resources to organize professional events.

Being at the forefront of the sector is also one of the hallmarks of Fruit Attraction. Consumer habits are changing, in this sense, what do you think about selling healthy products in vending machines?

The Vending and horticulture sectors have to work together. The vending sector has a lot of experience, especially in the hospitality industry, and the fourth range fruit and vegetables (washed and cut fruits and ready to eat vegetables) as well as the fifth range ones (fourth range variety products with some sort of dressing, like oil, pine nuts, or walnuts) are increasingly more used in these machines.

You have been the director of Fruit Attraction since its first edition. How has the fair changed? 
Fruit Attraction evolves in parallel with the sector it represents. Thus, the staging of the event is in line with the strategy for marketing the product. Thus, we've gone from selling categories of fruits to selling brands and packaging adapted to consumer tastes.

We must also highlight the increasingly important role of the marketing agencies, which have been very important in a time when products tend to be specialized.

Finally, the sector has specialized- from the planting of seeds to the product sale (fresh, auxiliary industry (tech for fruits), distribution, and logistics) - is represented at the fair.

What goals does Fruit Attraction have for the future? 
Fruit Attraction has a very clear objective: we want to be the reference point in the world and to do that we must continue attracting international offer. 

Our lines of work are clear: innovation and increased supply so that Fruit Attraction becomes the place where the fruit and vegetable market presents its developments. 

What are the new trends of the horticultural sector? 
The horticultural sector is undergoing a dramatic process of modernization. In that sense, we are investing in technology to increase farm productivity and be competitive.

We're also working in the line of varietal innovation, that is, developing new horticultural varieties to suit the tastes of consumers around the world. 

We are interested in research to ensure that the fruit lasts longer in optimum condition, as this will allow us to export to more distant markets. 60% of what is produced in Spain is for export, and 92% of that is for Europe. We want to open more markets.

On the other hand, brands increasingly look after the relationship between the producer and the consumer. Fruit or vegetables packages provide more information about how the product was grown to the end user. Many companies are incorporating recipes to cook their products differently in their marketing.

I also find it interesting that there is a clear trend towards gourmet productions and, finally, that there are more fourth and fifth range articles being produced.

Fruit Attraction is very active in social networks. Do you think the sector is also catching up in this regard?

Compared with other more industrial sectors, horticulture is years ahead in social networking. It is an exporting sector by nature so it's always communicating. Fruit Attraction, for example, has 10,000 followers on Facebook. 

About #benditasmáquinas
This interview is part of the #benditasmáquinas information campaign that the nonprofit Association of Vending Suppliers of Spain launched coinciding with Fruit Attraction to enhance the variety and quality of products offered by more than 300,000 vending machines scattered throughout the national territory; i.e. 6 per every 1,000 inhabitants. The vending sales system is a sector in constant growth.

The campaign includes weekly drawings #benditasmáquinas through their website. From October 26 to December 20 2015, the participant adults may choose what products their ideal vending machine would have (without exceeding a maximum total price of 150 euro). Each week, a gift box containing the selected products by the winner will be raffled.

24 hour Machines
What customers value the most from the vending machines is that they are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The non-profit association promoting the #benditasmáquinas campaign includes vending providers of Spain and marks the challenge of enhancing the variety and quality assurance of all the products dispensed by their machines. 

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