Fruitist & Paradise unites partner strengths

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Fruitist & Paradise unites partner strengths

Independent berry grower-packer-exporters in Mexico and Peru have entered a joint venture partnership to create a new berry marketing company, Fruitist & Paradise.

The company, which was formally created this summer, combines production and growing seasons to market from a central sales desk. Marcos Nuques in October became the company’s vice president of sales for the West Coast. 

The grower-partners are Agrovision Corp., based in Lima, Peru and Berries Paradise, headquartered in Guadalajara, Mexico. Fruitist & Paradise is in Los Angeles, CA. In recent years, Agrovision has built its blueberry brand, The Fruitist, in the North American market. Berries Paradise built its business to supply over 20 countries with their own branded blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.     

Nuques said Fruitist & Paradise is one of major producers of Sekoya’s proprietary blueberry varieties. “We’re over 50% percent Sekoya varieties, which has a very high demand. The product is virtually sold before it’s even picked.”

Sekoya varieties enjoy such international demand that a lot of growers of the premium blueberry export to more profitable markets than the U.S. 

“But we’re bringing this here because we have enough of it. We took a bet a long time ago when Sekoya’s were first being introduced and we doubled down on planting. It worked out.”

The two partnering companies have complementary production windows and each utilize sustainable farming practices, precision agricultural techniques, and thoughtful resource management, which together maximize speed to market and ensure industry-leading berry freshness and quality, according to a company statement.  

Nuques arrives with 12 years of experience at Giumarra, which was preceded by involvement in Global Pacific Produce Inc., with focus on UK and European export market.

Nuques describes his new role as “a huge opportunity.”

He is “focusing on major retail programs and going direct to market with our supply base.” His arrival this fall expanded the firm’s sales team, with Elecia Sullivan and Brian Haley already working the East Coast.

Currently, Fruitist & Paradise operates distribution facilities in Hammonton, NJ, and Pharr, TX. Soon a third facility will open in Greater Los Angeles.

Peruvian blueberries will continue to be shipped by sea container to Philadelphia and California seaports of Port Hueneme and Long Beach. 

The bulk of the Mexican berries will cross through McAllen, TX, or go directly to California border crossings.

But Nuques adds, “We’re not just a company that exports to the U.S.” Other large export markets are Asia and Europe. Those customers, he notes, have different standards and different packaging expectations. 

“Going to Europe, much product is shipped bulk (packed in flats) which are then repacked on its packaging machines in Europe. There, berries go into various compostable clamshells, cups and trays. Top seal containers are also an option in Europe.

Nuques added, “We offer the same bulk packing here in the U.S., and top seal is an option here as well. The difference is in Europe it’s a higher percentage top seal and cardboard and or compostable packaging.” 

As to shipping seasons, Peru starts earlier and earlier every year. Technically now, Nuques notes, Peru doesn’t even have to stop shipping. “The reason they stopped in the past is not to oversaturate the market during the peak of the Chilean season. So, the season goes for as long as they want to, really.”

Traditionally, Nuques added, the Peruvian blueberry season runs from August through December, stopping for the peak of Chilean deal. Peru then has resumed shipping in March. Peruvian growers have the luxury of controlling their production simply through pruning their berry bushes.  

That said, he added, “There is such a demand for the highest quality, consistently throughout the import season, now there’s always going to be a certain amount of Peruvian production in the market now.”

In Mexico, the company produces blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in Jalisco, Guanajuato and Sonora. 

Thus, “We can have berries whenever we want. Mexico and Peru for the most part complement each other. We try to stay away from peaking at same time and offer a smooth transition in imports and going into domestic season.”   

At his booth at the International Fresh Produce & Floral show in Orlando in October, Nuques offered Fresh Fruit Portal a sample of his special stash of the big, firm and flavorful Sequoya Pop blueberry. Nuques instructed the best way to get full profile is to have three or four berries in one bite. “You’re going to have some that are a little more tart than others. Some are a little more sweet. So, you take three or four to get the full spectrum.”

We can report a wonderfully flavorful kick!

The background on the merger is that as a grower of premium blues, raspberries, and blackberries in Mexico, Berries Paradise sold to independent marketing companies. “Their identity was highly, highly regarded in the industry with their label and everything, but they would do a lot of packing for other peoples’ labels.” 

In Peru, the large grower Agrovision had a similar situation, Nuques said. “They had few direct retail programs. They had to align themselves with various importers and marketing companies that had the distribution and sales and had the ability to move product.

“Now we’re at a juncture where it just makes sense.” Agrovision with its capabilities and blueberry varietal profiles from Peru, mixes with premium raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries from Mexico.

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