Western Cape Business News

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FOOD: Keys To Marketing Success


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE market for apples and pears is on a roll. The last three years have seen phenomenal growth with the international over-supply evaporating, according to Tru-Cape’s Charles Hughes.

He points out that markets are driven by supply and demand and – with the general trend to healthier eating – Tru-Cape’s export volumes have grown by more than 10% annually over the past three years.

Last year, especially, has been financially extraordinary successful, he says, thanks also to the relative weaker rand, compared to other major currencies.

The more recent world-wide financial and economic implosions have seen credit guarantee cover for exporters world-wide withdrawn or drastically reduced, affecting shipping accordingly.

However, the credit crunch has affected us much less. Thanks to bananas, oranges and especially apples being viewed not as luxuries, but rather essentials in diets, the repercussions so far have not been alarming”.

Fresh fruit has been less affected and this is especially so for those products that have not been ‘sliced and diced’ for the more luxurious niches. Pre-packed and pre-prepared are therefore more vulnerable. We are not in those markets,” Hughes says.

Much of Tru-Cape’s marketing success also flows from its programmed approach. This means, essentially, that fruit is planted in accordance with detailed requirements of supermarkets. More than 80% of production is destined for supermarket programmes here and across the world.

Your crop must have an address on it,” says Hughes.

This can be a logistical nightmare. So for example does it lead to Tru-Cape requiring more than 6 500 pack types for different varietals, sizes and so on. These are sorted into around 155 000 different packaging codes, including date and carton coding for the different customers.

He says changes in the last decade have revolutionised the fruit industry away from selling fruit on the old Dutch auction system where a grower would send fruit and, if lucky, sell it to the highest bidder for distribution around Europe. Now it is a much more formalised programme where plantings can be planned in accordance with programmes.

Interestingly, South Africa leads the world-wide trend to powerful supermarket groups who call the shots,” according to Hughes.

Thanks to the effectiveness of the company’s programming model, together with the established name and brand that it has built, Hughes is confident of continued growth well into the future.

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