MedFEL 2023 doubles number of international delegates

Export markets and ecology were at the heart of the debates, with an increased presence of international exhibitors and visitors
Wed 17/05/2023 by Pierre Escodo
medFEL, double the number of international delegates
Leading Brazilian fruit importer Benassi Group attends Medfel once again.
Fontestad France commercial manager Yasmina Sabat
Royal France sales manager Nicolas Mouly presents the new harvest of stone fruit and blueberries
Quercy Refrigeration sales managers present HDCold systems for sustainable cold storage
Unioque sales managers promote the French leading brand of table hazelnut and walnut
The Roussillon startup SiBio, a specialist in processed or "0 waste" organic products, is part of Ille Roussillon group.
The LUBEE new apple club promoted by Innatis Group is exclusively organic
Titbit convenience line of 0 waste products
French Fruit Lovers manager Sebastien Guy reports good 2023 crop of 900 tons

More than 200 French and international exhibitors showed their commtiment to sustainability and eco-responsibility. The 7 major sectors were represented: production, import/export, transport and logistics, packaging, process/equipment and engineering. The fruit and vegetable industry has proved once again its capacity to adapt to the current economic and ecological issues, raising its level of innovation and investments.

Key facts 2023
  • 3,397 visitors, +7% compared with 2022
  • 16% international delegates (8% in 2022)
  • 20% more exhibitors
Benassi Group has fully integrated supply chain

The largest fruit importer from Brazil purchases annually more than 150,000 tons from Latin America and overseas. “We participate in all the distribution channels of fresh fruit and vegetables, including category management and fruit sanction handling for regional supermarkets,” said Henrique Benassi from Benassi Group in Minas Gerais. The group runs distribution centres in Sao Paolo, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Juiz de Fora. Benassi also distributes flowers, and is the third-largest supplier in the country.

Mademoiselle adds berries, grapes and stone fruit to assortment

Fontestad France continues to diversify its offering of premium fruit under its “Mademoiselle” brand, adding strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots and table grapes to the range. Its commercial director Yasmina Sabat confirms the great success of the Mademoiselle strawberries, newly introduced this season. To complement the firm’s own production of 120,000 tons of all the Spanish varieties, Fontestad also imports citrus, such as Israeli Orri, Portuguese Clemfine and Eureka lemons, and Moroccan Nadorcott and Ortanique.

Frutiberica: The best of Spain and Portugal

Founded by 3 brothers in Madrid, the family company focuses both on wholesale activity and export programmes to France and Belgium, where about one million tons are supplied annually. “Summer fruit are our main specialty, with the supply of melons, stone fruit and watermelons during the entire season,” said co-founder Luis Pontes Real. The company also supplies during winter the most competitive varieties for export like citrus, vegetables, avocado and chirimoya. Some overseas imports of avocado and mango are also made in off-season for a 12-month supply.

Lovita plums delights fruit lovers between September and October

The variety club currently has more than 80ha planted in France and 30ha in Spain. The genuine and seductive plum is marketed by distribution partners Boyer, Vergers Cancel, Apifood and Le Vieux Pointet in France, Fruites Font in Spain and Rubisco in South Africa. About 900 tons are expected to be marketed in 2023, and 2,000 tons in 2024. Lovita stands out for its original heart-shape, as well as its juicy, sweet and tangy flavours. Its average size is between 50 and 60mm. Developed by Rispe and Escande nurseries, Lovita’s club marketing is coordinated by French Fruit Lovers.

Northern Greens, aromatic dressing for the world

The Danish firm supplies premium salads, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots to the major Danish supermarkets. Italy and Spain are its main sourcing countries, with 2 delegates in Alicante to take care of sorting and quality selection. “We are also looking at French lettuces and other greens produced in greenhouses for the fresh-cut industry,” said Casper Harding co-owner. The company exports “liquid herbs”, chopped and bottled with vinegar, to 25 countries.

Master Fruits: worldwide sourcing for the Portuguese market

Founded in 2009 and specialising in tropical fruit, Master Fruits has rapidly become a major Portuguese importer of fresh produce. Its annual turnover totals €60 million. Pineapple, melon and exotics are the main categories sourced from overseas. The company also imports potato, carrots, onions and cabbage, particularly from France. Master Fruits runs 3 storage and distribution centres, in Lisbon, Madeira and Cabo Verde.

Lubee yellow apple by Innatis, exclusively organic

The new club variety developed by Innatis Group on an exclusive basis in Europe has all the attributes required to seduce older and newer consumers of organics alike. Lubee has an attractive colour, a rustic appearance (spotted skin), crunchy flesh and a modern flavour comprising a very appetising sweet-acid combination. It also has the major agronomic attributes to succeed, given its resistance to oidium and scab.

Matysha, offers wide range of citrus, tomatoes and berries

The Moroccan group continues to grow by about 10% annually, with 400ha of greenhouse tomato, 200ha of berries and 200ha of citrus. An estimated 80,000 tons are expected to be marketed this season: 40,000 tons of tomato, 38,000 of citrus and 2,000 tons of berries (raspberries and blueberries). Matysha also offers other products like courgettes, melons and watermelons, as well as spicy and sweet peppers. “Berries are our major growing category, especially for the UK market, in partnership with Angus Soft Fruit,” said Oliver Banon, managing director France and executive director of the group. In the 2022-2023 campaign, the group’s turnover totalled circa €80 million, 75% which came from sales in Europe, 15% from Russia and 10% from the US and Canada (citrus).

The group complies with the multiple standards required by each market, and holds GLOBALG.A.P., FairTrade, SMETA, GRASP and BRC certifications. It runs 4 packing and distribution centres: Matysha (tomato), Lymouna-Prim and Lymouna-Med (citrus), and Matysha France (logistics). It also operates its own plant nursery for full control of the supply chain, producing more than 5 million vegetable plants, with the target of reaching 10 million.

Royal: success with home-bred varieties

Awarded “Flavour Of the Year” in France and Spain, the “Royal Blu Aroma” blueberry is the result of the exclusive strategy of the group to develop its home-bred fruit varieties. “Royal Sanguine” Nectarine is another promising success story of the group, introduced in France in 2022. “Both new products have had exceptional feedback from the different markets,” said Macarena García Otero-Reina, CEO of Royal. This season, the firm expects to produce about 12,000 tons of blueberries, 2,500 tons of raspberries, 22,000 tons of peaches and nectarines, and 800 tons of interspecific prune varieties “Pluot” and “Metis”.

The plantations of Royal Group total 680ha in Morocco, 25ha in Faro, 300ha in Badajoz and 700ha in Seville & Huelva.

Quercy Refrigeration, develops advanced HDCold system

Based in Moissac, France, the technology company has developed a new sustainable cold system to prolong the storage of fruit by ensuring close to 98% humidity. For example, apples can be stored with HDCold for 2 months more than through standard cold storage. The technology, which is adapted for each variety, is being introduced with success overseas in India, China, Africa and Central Europe.

SiBio offers large range of “home-made” organic fruit juices

Produced from locally grown organic fruit in the Roussillon Valley, SiBio has launched a “0 waste” project and an initiative to obtain optimum flavours. The firm has a wide range of fruit juices, jams and purees for the French market. The startup is now supported by Ille Roussillon Group, which holds a 20% share in SiBio.

Titbit, a full range of exotics for the Czech Republic

Titbit is both an importer, e-commerce platform and a “0 waste” kitchen supplying the entire basket of tropical and exotic fruits and vegetables including aromatics. It also specialises in lesser-known exotic fruits like jackfruit, green papaya, nam dok mai, longan, salak, mangosteen, etc. Titbit supplies all the Czech supermarket chains as well as other channels. “We supply the 2 major e-shops, and, where consumers are looking at more exclusive or premium products like exotics and speciality vegetables, which are our specialities,” said Titbit sourcing manager, Ludmila Robinsonova. “We also have our own 0-waste kitchen where we process juices, jams, fruit purees salads and prepared vegetables like soup mixes or prepared sweet potato for baking. We also sell them on our own platform,” said Robinsonova. With a turnover of €26 million, Titbit is the number one supplier of avocado and mango in the country.

Unicoque, hopes for better crop in 2023

The leading French hazelnut cooperative UNICOQUE hopes its crop 2023 will show all of its potential (around 10,000 tons), after the 2022 crop was reduced by frosts in April and the hot summer temperatures. The market for unshelled hazelnuts represents around 60% of the demand and is declining, unlike the market for shelled hazelnuts, which is growing annually. “We expect the processing market to become as strong as the retail market in the coming years,” said Cécile Biers, sales director. Corabel and Ennis are 2 of  the main varieties produced for table consumption and marketed under the well-known  Koki brand. Tonda di giffoni and Pauetet are 2 of  the main varieties for the food-processing industry. Meanwhile, the situation in walnuts is the reverse, with around 1,500 tons produced last year. The record French crop has led to an oversupply this season. Export markets represent 55% of the sales of Unicoque, with the main markets being Germany, Spain and Italy. Non-EU markets make up 5% of the export volume, with Algeria the foremost destination. “We hope to revitalise the export market as soon as we have the new crop,” said Biers.

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