French importers appeal to South American suppliers

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French importers appeal to South American suppliers

A group of European importers are attempting a difficult business undertaking – to convince fruit exporters to trust in the French market.

Gecko Fruits co-founder Richard Frowein spoke with about the challenges of the French market and how to win confidence.

“All the exporters are scared to send fruit to the French market and are scared to have quality issues or payment issues or disagreement on the price they had before the season,” Frowein said.

“All importers in France are losing money every year. The cost to employ people in France is quite high. So today, to run a fresh fruit import company, it’s quite difficult to handle it and pay all the charges you have to pay every month.”

Import difficulties and lack of exporter confidence means a market gap. In a country where markets expect produce every day, French consumers are left wanting more, Frowein explained.

Frustration on various levels of the supply chain is where the idea for Gecko Fruits grew from.

With extensive experience in sea freight, Richard Frowein decided to collaborate with exotic fruit specialist Arnaud Fauchet to bring cheaper fruits, year-round to French consumers.

“I know all the chain stores, supermarkets. I’m the middle man,” Frowein said.

“To bring fruit to play the market, for me, those days are over. Today you have to organize at what time you’re going to be in the market and if you have a customer for the fruit you can import.”

The importer explained that Gecko Fruits works to eliminate uncertainty in the French market. Instead of sending buyers through Dutch sellers, Frowein and Fauchet set up more direct market arrivals.

The business has spent time building relationships with exporters from Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and South Africa.

The imports from these countries will have clear market destinations in France, eliminating uncertainty on both ends. Markets can count on more dependable product flow and exporters can reach consumers with more certainty.

Suppliers will also avoid language barriers. Frowein explained that few French buyers speak Spanish, for example, so working with South America can be difficult.

Already, Gecko Fruits expects its first mango shipment from Peru. Before year’s end, the company will also receive cherries from Chile and grapes from South Africa.

Frowein estimates that about half of French importers currently go through Dutch sellers, inserting uncertainty into sales.

He hopes a more direct avenue to France will create cheaper prices and satisfaction for both sellers and buyers.

“I don’t think it’s going to be easy. It’s something new. For growers to say, ok, I’m here and I have apples, pears or avocados,” he said.

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