Q&A: Camposol celebrates successful first year with blueberry brand
In late 2017, Peru's leading blueberry exporter, Camposol, launched its blueberry brand, 'The Berry That Cares'. One year on, Fresh Fruit Portal caught up with CEO Jorge Ramirez to hear about how the brand has been received in key export markets, plans for the "very intense" next season, and expectations for when Peru will overtake Chile in blueberry exports.
FFP: How has everything been going with your blueberry brand since its launch in October 2017?
JR: We are pleased to celebrate the first anniversary of our blueberry brand The Berry That Cares (TBTC). The intense marketing campaign we started in 2017 has continued throughout 2018 in our main markets: North America, Europe, and China.
Our TBTC blueberries have been well received in China, where they were first offered in 2018. We now have a community of more than 90 thousand followers on Facebook, and our social networks remain constantly active to better consolidate a direct relationship with our consumers. We provide them with messages that support their interest in healthy lifestyles.
FFP: Is this brand being used for all of Camposol’s fresh blueberry sales in all markets?
JR: Yes, the brand is used for all our blueberries in their various presentations and is much lauded by our clients and consumers worldwide. Besides tastings in sale points in key markets, marketing activities include direct communication with consumers, also via social networks. To this end, the brand is on the Web and has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, QR codes, as well as its own Berry Blog, providing the latest on particular brand characteristics.
FFP: What drove Camposol to create a brand for its blueberries? Are there any new opportunities that it has opened up for you?
JR: Camposol is outstanding as its DNA not only guarantees commitment to excellence in quality, consistency and service, but stresses the most strident standards of social and environmental responsibility. Thus, we share our experience achieving our standards with our consumers to establish a socially and environmentally prosperous and sustainable business. The best way to ensure this has been to inform our consumers of the benefits offered by the differentiating characteristics of our brand.
FFP: What consumer feedback have you received so far?
JR: We have received very positive feedback regarding our brand. We have a significant electronic information community and we are constantly in touch with our consumers. We welcome their feedback and incorporate their ideas to our communications. It is interesting to observe how our consumers share common interests, such as a concern for leading a healthy life, the pleasure of having practical and nutritious recipes, the impact of our company on its participants, on our communities, and in protecting nature, among others. Therefore, we portend to inform our consumers and always remain connected and attuned to their needs and expectations.
FFP: An important aspect of the “The Berry That Cares” brand is Camposol’s corporate and social responsibility. Could you speak about some of the key policies and initiatives that the company has in this area?
JR: This initiative affirms Camposol’s commitment to excellence, in quality, consistency and service, as well as its social and environmental responsibility, seeking to generate shared value for all company stakeholders. Further to the freshness, quality and delicious taste of our blueberries, the brand affirms Camposol’s commitment to its consumers, the planet, the community and its workers by offering non-GMO (not genetically modified) products; by providing a fair and engaged relationship with its workers; by respecting the environment, and by developing a community in what was once a desert.
Likewise, our biological control system is noteworthy in as much as it prioritizes natural pest management as well the use of beneficial microorganisms rather than pesticides, to benefit the health of our consumers. Moreover, Camposol was the first Peruvian agroindustry company to join the United Nations Global Compact and to report its performance according to the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) indicators. As a result of this work, we can say that Camposol blueberries “care”: Our blueberries care about you, our people, community and our planet.
FFP: What are your plans for the brand over in the next season?
JR: We envisage a very intense 2019 for our brand in all markets. We will focus on continuing our communication with our consumers through accounts on Facebook, Instagram, our website, Berry Blog, our QR codes on our labels, among others. We will also continue to execute promotional activities in-store, as well as advertising, participating in events, fairs, etc.
FFP: How is everything going with Camposol’s aim of creating a year-round supply of blueberries?
JR: Every season we extend our offer throughout the year. Technically, we can do it and every year we get retail programs that ask us to cover a longer period.
FFP: What do you see as being the biggest benefit of offering year-round blueberries?
JR: The greatest benefits are on both sides of the chain. Being a reliable supplier of volume throughout the different seasons is always preferred by customers. They see it as fewer headaches and safe base programs. On the production/operational side - lower costs, higher efficiency, less pressure on labor, etc.
FFP: Do you have any plans to source blueberries from countries other than Peru?
JR: So far, we only have production in Peru. Sourcing from other growers in other countries is always an option, but that is a project that has to be created based on trust and convenience for both parties. There are several countries in scope but nothing concrete as yet.
FFP: How did your 2018 blueberry season go?
JR: Very well. We ended with higher volumes than projected, earlier than planned, and with a better market than expected. We will finish as the largest blueberry exporter from Peru.
FFP: You have been investing heavily in blueberry production in Peru over recent years. What kind of volume increase could we expect to see over the coming years?
Next season, we believe Peru will have the similar volumes as that exported from Chile and greater than Chile’s in the following years.
FFP: Given the rapidly rising production, what do you think the Peruvian blueberry industry must do in order to remain sustainable in the future?
By getting stronger as an industry, by investing in wise marketing on the main markets, and working quickly on opening new ones.
FFP: What efforts are underway at Camposol to ensure that the quality of fruit remains as high as it can possibly be?
Heavy investments on technology in the field and at the packing levels, together with genetic development, of course.
FFP: How do you expect Camposol and Peru's market distribution dynamics to evolve over the coming years? Will a higher proportion of fruit be sent to any markets in particular?
This is part of the strategy each company has. Of course, we will be growing in those markets where we have a stronger position and also in others where we see that there is capacity or need from customers, keeping in mind that we must maintain balanced markets.