It took Ecuadorian banana brand BanaBay Ltd just three days to secure three significant contracts at Fruit Logistica last month, two in Italy and one in Poland, with many more being negotiated in the aftermath.
The three day event in Berlin generated 90 different opportunities from over 20 countries across three continents, and Mark O’Sullivan, BanaBay’s MD has been overwhelmed by the response: “It was our first time at the event so to pick up business from day one was phenomenal. But now of course the hard work begins both to bed in our new business and secure those further contracts.”
As well as overseas interest, Emma Tomlinson, Business Development Manager at BanaBay reported a promising response from the UK market, with several significant enquiries which could lead to sales of plantains and organic bananas. Emma commented: “I am extremely pleased with the potential growth of our newest product lines being introduced in this country.”
Fruit Logistica, the leading international fresh produce trade fair hosted 2,600 exhibitors and attracted 62,000 trade visitors from 141 countries. The boost in sales enquiries for the Ecuadorian fruit producer and importer comes at just the right time for BanaBay which has just moved to larger UK premises and made several new staff appointments.
In a separate development BanaBay’s premium Ecuadorian bananas have been awarded Fairtrade and Organic Fairtrade stamps of approval, which the growers hope will broaden the appeal of their fruit as global demand continues to rise.
In the UK, one in every three bananas is Fairtrade, which gives an idea of the opportunity here and abroad as BanaBay MD Mark O’Sullivan explains: “Fairtrade status is trusted and recognised worldwide and is essential when opening new markets such as the US where we are currently running product trials. Consumers there are increasingly concerned about the provenance of foods grown far away and have come to rely on the Fairtrade mark as an indication the food has been ethically produced.”
The Fairtrade promise is particularly relevant to BanaBay as a grower because the fruit comes from family owned plantations in Ecuador which benefit directly from the additional premium to put into local projects relating to housing and education.
The Fairtrade status backs up BanaBay’s Global GAP accreditation which monitors agricultural standards. Also in the pipeline for 2014 are Rainforest Alliance, Equal Exchange, HACCP and ISO standards certifications.
NEW RIPENING PARTNER
BanaBay has also secured a major opportunity for advancing its premium brand of Ecuadorian bananas in the UK with the appointment of a new ripening partner, S H Pratt & Co. (Bananas) Ltd, which has an established track record supplying the major retailers.
The Luton-based importer and ripener, which places product quality and service above all, has recognised the significant potential of BanaBay as an emerging brand with GlobalGAP accreditation and Fairtrade and Organic Fairtrade status for its fruit.
Five containers a week, equivalent to around 500,000 BanaBay bananas, are currently exported into the UK, which after being shipped in temperature controlled conditions arrive still green to be ripened to perfection before being dispatched to the end customer.
Robert Wells, MD at S H Pratt, welcomes the new relationship. “We were on the lookout for a new banana brand to join our product ranges and there seemed to be a natural understanding of high standards and personal service, probably because BanaBay bananas are grown at family run plantations and we are a family business. We have been impressed by the exceptional product quality from BanaBay, as well as their commitment to outstanding customer service.”
BanaBay is happy to fill an important link in the supply chain to reach more wholesale and retail customers, as MD Mark O’Sullivan explains: “The UK is the hub of our banana business, but it is a highly competitive market and finding the right UK ripening partner gives us the necessary control to ensure a premium product, consistent quality and continuity of supply.”
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