David Serena: “Sales via Frukar’s distribution network”

Serena fully in control of citrus cultivation and packaging

The Spanish citrus company Serena, based in La Pobla Llarga, Valencia, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The range consists mostly of oranges (90%), which are complemented with mandarins. For the future, director David Serena also wants pomegranates to play a role. The packing station has the entire chain, from production to packaging, under control and its sales have been done for years via Frukar, in Barendrecht.



The crates with Navelina, Salustiana, Navel Late and Lane Late oranges under the Serena brand won’t be found in any other packing centre. About twenty percent (50 hectares) corresponds to its own production, another 50% is cultivated by associated growers under its own management and the rest is purchased on a contract basis. In total, Serena packs about 10 million kilos per year under Class I, 2 million kilos under Class II and it ships 1 million kilos to the processing industry. "In the past, Navelinas were by far the most important, now half of the volume corresponds to Navel and Lane Late," explains David.


Director David Serena.

This year, both the orange season and the mandarin season had a good start. "Because of the heat in May, the volume is around 20% smaller and the quality, in my opinion, is one of the best in the past five years, which entails plenty of potential for the rest of the season. We thoroughly check both the internal and external quality of the fruit before we export it," assures David. "Of course, we have competition from other producing countries, such as Morocco and Egypt, but Morocco, for instance, is strongly focused on France and Russia, and they are also unable to compete with our uniform quality and food safety standards."



Strict controls
"No country can match the production quality and food safety of Valencia’s oranges; the strict standards that we meet for our retail customers go beyond those set by GlobalGAP; that, in my view, is the only way to survive. Furthermore, we make use of transport technology that guarantees the freshness of our products," affirms David. "Prices are naturally important for our customers, but fortunately more and more retailers are really looking for something extra in terms of quality. Superunie, to which we supply our oranges, is an example of this in the Netherlands. The trucks often go directly to their DC, but always in consultation with Frukar."



He also doesn’t believe that working with a single sales channel entails risks. "We feel comfortable with that. We can pay our full attention to the cultivation and packing and Frukar has a large sales network across Europe. "I have worked with Frukar since the day the company was founded. We discuss all matters, such as varieties and packaging. Frukar has contacts with supermarkets and wholesalers in all of Europe. In the past, we exported ourselves to countries like the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia, but it was not easy to reach the retail. I fully trust Frukar and our market is growing by 5-10%."



Pomegranates

While many citrus growers in Valencia have started growing persimmons, David believes Serena won’t get involved. "We want to be known as a quality citrus supplier; however, I see great potential in the cultivation of pomegranates, a product that is becoming more popular every year. Trials are currently being carried out in Valencia with the crop and I'm amazed at the excellent quality. Within two and a half years, I expect to be on the market with significant volumes," reveals the Spanish producer.



He believes that the capacity to introduce changes in the mandarin and orange varieties is limited. "As regards oranges, you see that with the Navelinas, which are hitting the market a little earlier; with mandarins, more varieties are being introduced, especially for the second half of the season. They are also not really involved with varieties that are exclusively marketed by a limited number of producers and for which royalties have to be paid. "Ultimately, consumers pay too much for these varieties."



The cultivation of organic citrus, however, has caught his attention, although it is not a simple issue. "We would like to launch an organic line, but the external quality of organic citrus tends to be lower and consumers still easily associate that with unhealthy properties. And that's a pity, because especially in terms of health we have a lot to offer. In an era of meat scandals and obesity, we can make a difference with our fresh products."



Family business
David also looks at the future with confidence. "It is very positive for us that we are a family business. My brother is also active within the company and is responsible for cultivation. My daughter is now in college and is interested in getting into the business. We have a passionate team and want to earn more than simply money. That passion can be found throughout the entire company. We pay our employees (60 in the plantations and 40 in the packing station) even more than the so-called 'agencies'. Ultimately, this is reflected in the efforts of the employees and the quality of our business!"



For more information:
S.A.T. 126 CV Serena
Poligono 7 Parc. 28
46670 La Pobla Llagra, Spain
Tel: +34 69 259 02 69
Fax: +34 69 259 00 11
Email: satserena@gmail.com

For sales information:
Willem Koole
Frukar
Tel: 0180-646532
Email: wkoole@frukar.nl
www.frukar.nl

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