Beva Fruits International boosts retail presence and launches new social impact brand
France-based importer Beva Fruits International (BFI) has recently launched a new social impact brand amid strong annual growth driven by increasing its retail presence and grower relationships and returns.
The citrus, table grape and avocado specialist last year launched the Benji label, which it says has been well received by suppliers and retailers alike.
"As responsible business leaders it is our role to make every effort to have a positive impact on the lives of those who are struggling," said Bruno Edery, founder and CEO of BFI. "The brand was conceived to meet that goal”.
"We stand behind our mission statement logo which states ‘Doing Good By Buying Right'. By consuming Benji fruit you are not only pleasing your palate but you are contributing to the well-being for a segment of our population that is not as fortunate."
The team is still working hard on the new brand and its social impact. Edery says that by 2021 they will have clear lines of where they want to be positioned and will be sponsoring charitable causes such as children's wellbeing.
Some of BFI's suppliers around the world are now packing 100% of their fruit under the Benji label, and French retailers have embraced the brand.
"Our goal is that through this brand we will attract new suppliers who share our values in regard to social responsibility," he said.
The launch comes after more than a decade of strong growth for BFI. Edery said sales have increased by approximately 7% - 10% annually since 2007, thanks primarily due to increased retail programs which have attracted a lot of suppliers.
"Our strategy for growth is simple - it can only be sustainable if we keep increasing grower returns," he said. "Providing our suppliers access to a well-recognized brand like Benji and working closely with the retail trade leads to a win-win situation for all."
BFI currently services eight French retailers with seasonal programs. Edery says the company is known for taking all sizes and grades, which is a big benefit for vertically integrated grower-exporters.
"In South Africa, BFI is present in all three citrus growing regions, enabling us to assure supply to retailers right from the first navels and grapefruit to the last juice oranges and noble navel types such as Autumn Gold and Cambria," he said.
When BFI was founded in 2001, most of its citrus sales were represented by grapefruit from Florida, where the company has a long-standing partnership with Dan Richey and the Scott Family.
Since then, BFI has become a known citrus specialist and has grown its network of suppliers in countries such as Argentina and South Africa. It is looking to expand further in those countries and build its presence in Chile and Uruguay.
While citrus remains a major category for BFI, over the last four years the company has been focusing on an expansion into the global avocado market.
"We are now in the planning phase of creating ripening and packaging facilities," Edery said. "We are looking for growers who want to work with a receiver who is transparent in the value-added returns that ripening can bring back to farm gate returns."
"The additional revenue generated from the added value created by ripening avocados often isn’t shared with grower-exporters, but that's not the case with us."
BFI is working closely with several avocado suppliers in Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. It is also working to develop relationships in Peru and Chile.
"We strongly believe in Africa and its potential of becoming an important, consistent supply base of avocados," he said.
Meanwhile, BFI continues to import table grapes from India, Chile and South Africa. It's looking to expand imports from South Africa and develop relationships and strategic partners in Peru.