Following its acquisition of Berry Gardens last summer, multinational fruit company Driscoll’s has told The Grocer that it sees great opportunities to boost the berry category in the UK.
Russell Allwell, MD of Driscoll’s EMEA told the magazine that ‘establishing its own operation in the UK was “a great opportunity”’ and that ‘there was still “plenty of room for growth” in the berries category, particularly in blueberries.’
The company, which has acquired the sales, packing and distribution part of Berry Gardens, leaving the grower’s co-operative to focus on growing, says that it is keen to work with retailers and growers to drive category growth, for example through the introduction of “more flavourful” varieties.
“We bring a lot of experience in terms of category building,” he said. “We have had long experience in working with growers and how to optimise grower returns. Price is an important consideration, but flavour is by far the greatest, so the watchout is that we have got to be lean and efficient in what we do… but you can’t compromise on flavour.”
While acknowledging that growers face numerous issues, including labour availability and the weather, he added that cost pressures are the greatest challenge growers face, and that Driscoll’s can help introduce operational efficiencies, for example by increasing the use of integrated planning to balance supply and demand.
“We certainly don’t come in with an arrogance that we know it all,” he continued. “We have got a lot to learn about the UK market. We want to listen; we want to learn. We see it very much as a collaboration with our growers and with our customers about how we tackle the marketplace.”