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"Uzbekistan is the procurement country of the future"

On September 1, Frutree took over the business operations of Vetter Slovakia. With this step, the Europe-wide producer of high-quality nut and dried fruit products is not only breaking new ground in the production and marketing of its products, but also in the procurement of raw materials, as Anton Klocker (r), Managing Partner of the Slovakia-based company, tells us in an interview.

In recent years, the company has developed from a traditional trading and packaging company into a fully-fledged manufacturer with a wide range of products. Frutree's product range now includes not only the usual nuts and dried fruit in small containers, but also a wide variety of chocolate-coated fruit and nut mixes as well as vegan and organic products. Klocker: "In recent years, we have seen a very positive sales trend thanks to expanded business relationships with leading European retailers and cash & carry chains. Our core markets are the DACH region and CEE, but France and the UK are also growth markets for us."

Upward trend in Uzbekistan
At the same time, the company is also breaking new ground in the procurement of goods, continues Klocker. "We already have a unique selling point with our chocolate-coated fruit. However, our aim is also to strengthen our position in the classic dried fruit segment, as there have been several failed harvests and delays in origin in recent years. In order to guarantee the highest possible security of supply, supply chain transparency, high quality and product safety, we have taken the path of verticalization. This has led to investments in raw material producers in Turkey and Tunisia. Further commitments, particularly in Uzbekistan, are being planned."

In addition to all this, Frutree has also been focusing heavily on Uzbek apricots since this year. "Due to the problems on the Turkish market, we have found a very good alternative for our customers here. We are endeavoring to further diversify the countries of origin in order to secure the required quantities even in times of climate and economic challenges."

The products from the Central Asian country are already listed by major food retail chains in the DACH region, Klocker confirms. "Uzbekistan is an up-and-coming country and, in my opinion, also an important source for many raw materials in the future - we have already successfully positioned the first deliveries of Uzbek dried plums on the market and other products are being evaluated."

The framework conditions and certification standards in Uzbekistan meet European standards. "Uzbekistan is increasingly aiming for the European market and is tapping into new sales markets in order to make the best possible use of the large agricultural areas available. In this respect, Uzbekistan is a serious alternative, although Turkey will remain the most important procurement country for apricots in the coming years. Ultimately, both countries have a right to exist, not least because of the different varieties that are grown locally."

Ramadan as a significant sales driver
According to Klocker, there have also been interesting shifts in sales of nuts and dried fruit. As a leading manufacturer, Frutree is faced with the task of constantly responding to these changes in society with appropriate product ranges. "We are seeing that ethnic holidays, especially Ramadan and Diwali, are becoming more important. Diwali plays a particularly important role in the UK, while Ramadan is now also an important factor in terms of sales in the DACH countries. Christmas business is still by far the strongest sales period. Some new products, such as nuts in ChoViva - a cocoa-free chocolate alternative - will also come to the fore next year," concludes Klocker.

Images: Frutree s. r. o.

For more information:
Anton Klocker
Frutree s. r. o.
Priemyselná 1128/2
920 01 Hlohovec
Slovak Republic

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