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Major merger of Vietnamese retailers

Major merger of Vietnamese retailers

Vingroup has announced that its retail and agriculture divisions (VinCommerce and VinEco) are to merge with Masan Consumer Holdings to establish Vietnam’s largest retail group. The new company will have a network of 2,600 VinMart and VinMart+ stores in 50 provinces, as well as VinEco’s 14 high-tech farms. Masan’s chairperson, Truong Cong Thang, said, “Vingroup has completed its mission to create the pioneer and most effective clean agriculture and retail system in Vietnam. And now we will carry this flag to continue our mission to serve consumers while ensuring a fair retail market for Vietnamese manufacturers.” The new firm also harbours plans to extend its business worldwide.

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New fresh food boss at Sainsbury’s

New fresh food boss at Sainsbury's


Rhian Bartlett has been appointed to Sainsbury’s director of fresh food. With over 25 years’ experience in the retail industry, Bartlett rejoins the UK retail chain from Screwfix, where she worked for two years, most recently as customer and digital director. Prior to Screwfix, she spent nearly three years at eBay. Her first stint at Sainsbury’s, from 2008 to 2015, saw her hold the roles of category manager and head of online merchandising. 

Commercial director, Mills-Hicks, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming Rhian back to Sainsbury’s. She has extensive experience and will be a key member of the commercial leadership team as we further enhance our food business and focus on offering customers quality products at affordable prices.” 

Bartlett also stated a pleasure at the reunion. “It is a fantastic company with talented colleagues and a clear purpose to help customers live well for less. I am really looking forward to working with the teams to deliver a fantastic Christmas for our customers.”

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WCO to represent 70% of citrus producing countries

WCO to represent 70% of citrus producing countries, ct. Forest and Kim Starr, Flickr
Credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Flickr


The World Citrus Organisation is growing at a rapid pace, with even more new countries set to join. Launched at the end of October by seven leading citrus producing countries (Argentina, Chile, Italy, Morocco, Peru, Spain and South Africa) during Fruit Attraction in Madrid, the WCO will soon represent 70% of the world’s citrus producing countries. Justin Chadwick, CEO of South Africa’s Citrus Growing Association, said the organisation is “creating a powerful global platform for dialogue and action between the citrus-producing countries worldwide. The new member countries about to join up are Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Portugal and the US.

The WCO is administered by Freshfel Europe, the European Fresh Produce Association. Its aim is to discuss common issues affecting citrus-producing countries, exchange information on production and market trends, preparing scenarios for citrus trade in 2030, while also fostering dialogue on policy issues of common concern. The WCO will also play a role in identifying and promoting research and innovation projects specific to the citrus sector and liaising with public and private stakeholders on citrus-related matters to highlight the importance of citrus producers and the need for a fair return. The WCO will meet again during next year’s Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

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Walmart back on track with Produce 2.0

Walmart back on track with Produce 2.0


Walmart’s fresh produce is now at the level of its competitors. This is the bold statement of the US retail giant’s CEO Doug McMillon, following the launch of the Produce 2.0 initiative. Speaking at an investor conference, McMillon said, “We match up (to our rivals), but I don’t want to have our team get comfortable. We have a really competitive quality offer and a great value in produce today.”

McMillon acknowledges that Walmart were behind its rivals in terms of its offerings of fresh food, but argues that thanks to its detailed work on product sourcing and handling to improve speed to shelf and increased hours on the shopfloor, the firm has greatly improved its in-store execution and presentations. These lessons are now being showcased in improved layouts at stores as part of the “Produce 2.0” initiative, a merchandising set expected to be introduced in about half of Walmart’s Supercenters by next summer.

Describing the feeling of entering into a store where these changes have been made, McMillon said, “It looks like a fresh market. There’s a lot of colour. It’s in your face. It feels aggressive from a merchandising point of view. And I walked into my first one in the El Paso market months ago and didn’t realise I was walking into a Produce 2.0 store. But when I walked through the door, it hit me, ‘What has happened here in produce?’ And then I was able to process and figure out, ‘Oh, they put Produce 2.0 here.’ It’s got that kind of impact.”


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E.coli outbreak in US still not over

E.coli outbreak in US still not over, credit: leveland Clinic, Health essentials
Credit: Cleveland Clinic, Health essentials 



There is an ongoing investigation in the US into the outbreak of E.coli linked to romaine lettuce. On November 26, the CDC and FDA both published additional information regarding the investigation, which has so far affected 19 states of the country. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and identify any additional products that may be linked to the illnesses.  No common grower, supplier, distributor, or food item that contains romaine lettuce has been identified that accounts for all illnesses. 

Thus far, there are 67 confirmed cases of the illness, with 39 hospitalisations. Six cases have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths have been reported. The last illness onset date has been extended to November 14, 2019, and, at this point in time, the outbreak has not yet been declared over. The CDC continues to advise consumers not to eat romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas region.

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Freshfel Europe calls for a fresh fruit and vegetable-in-all-policies approach

Freshfel Europe calls for a fresh fruit and vegetable-in-all-policies approach

On the 2nd of December, Freshfel Europe called for a fresh fruit and vegetables-in-all-policies approach in its presentation of its 2019-2024 priorities paper for the EU institutions ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future’ in the European Parliament. Freshfel Europe asked policy makers to help stimulate a higher level of fresh fruit and vegetable consumption as part of an integral shift to a low environmental impact plant-based diet to protect the planet and citizens’ health. Freshfel Europe indicated that this could only be achieved through increased support for the sector in the policy-making agenda over the next five years across Europe and at all levels of government in conjunction with sector initiatives.

During the evening reception Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard presented Freshfel Europe’s latest paper ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future: Freshfel Europe’s Priorities for the EU Institutions 2019-2024’ to Members of the European Parliament working on agricultural, environmental and trade issues and high-level European Commission officials. Mr Binard explained that “By helping better position the fresh fruit and vegetable sector policy makers will achieve forward-thinking coherent policy that will future-proof our planet and meet consumers’ expectations now and into 2030”. In his presentation Mr Binard also underlined that, “Fresh fruit and vegetables play a key role in Europe’s ambitions to protect the planet, provide healthy prosperous lifestyles to all and meet the Sustainable Development Goals. The beginning of this path is an ambitious and effective European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy that incorporates a fresh fruit and vegetables-in-all-policies approach”.

MEP Herbert Dorfmann opened the cocktail reception in the European Parliament welcoming guests and describing the importance of sustainable production in a modern world with a fast changing climate. Freshfel Europe President Stephan Weist also addressed participants asserting that actors across the EU fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain will continue to collaborate to ensure that Europe reaches the WHO recommended consumption intake of 400g of fruit and vegetables per capita per day. Mr Weist pointed out that, “21 Member States are currently not reaching this with the average consumption at 348g per capita per day. The fresh fruit and vegetable sector must be prioritized in the policy-making agenda so that these nutritious products remain an essential part of European consumers’ sustainable diet”.

Freshfel Europe’s ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future’ paper outlines the role of the sector in significantly contributing to a low-environmental impact future for Europe and the good health of European consumers. The paper details specific policy areas to tackle over the next five years, covering the CAP, intra-EU and global trade, the supply chain, circular economy, plant health, food safety, digitalization and health policy, to ensure that Europe is a global leader achieving a triple-win for the environment, the economy and consumer health. Freshfel Europe’s full paper ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables for Europe’s Future’ can be downloaded from the Freshfel Europe website here.


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Are you ready for Generation Voice?

Lisa Cork at Asia Fruit Logistica
“The Internet of Things and connectedness will change how we all market fruit and vegetables”, Lisa Cork at Asia Fruit Logistica


These are the megatrends fresh produce marketers must prepare for


Generation Voice will revolutionise digital retail. And it’s just one of various global macro trends set to shake up every fresh produce business. Lisa Cork, CEO of Fresh Produce Marketing Ltd, says we’re in a time of unprecedented disruption, but this brings opportunities for incredible differentiation. The way to survive and thrive is to understand what’s coming, she says. In a session on September 5 at Smart Horticulture Asia, part of the Asia Fruit Logistica show in Hong Kong, the New Zealand-based expert shared her advice on just how to do this.

The era of Voice activation

When she started out in fresh produce marketing over 25 years ago, Cork said there was one clear target to influence – the female household shopper. But fresh produce marketers today face a never before seen degree of demographic diversity. Now there are 6 main demographic groups to take into account – Silent, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z – plus the game-changing Generation Voice. The latter will be the generation that, from a very young age, verbalises commands into all sorts of audio devices, including phones and home speakers, and has the power of purchasing and influence in its hands from a far younger age than ever before. The fact that this generation will grow up with voice as its predominant interaction with technology “changes everything about how we do everything,” Cork said.

Capitalise on increasing 

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is all about connectedness. This trend has been driving us for the last decade and it’s only getting stronger. “We are seeing a whole new way of connecting with the devices in our homes,” said Cork, who went on to share examples including the Samsung smart fridge. Aptly called the Family Hub, this fridge allows people to manage their fresh food like never before, including to see inside it from anywhere with built-in cameras, create and share digital shopping lists, look up recipes on its touchscreen, scan product barcodes, and order groceries online. Cork urged fresh produce companies to start thinking about the implications of the latter, namely how to get their brand into consumers’ hands when doing replenishments via a smart fridge. “The Internet of Things and connectedness will change how we all market fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Don’t dismiss 
plant-based diets

What’s the biggest food trend now? Cork says it’s probably “food mindfulness”, which is all about plant-based protein and diets. Some people say it’s a fad but Cork is adamant it’s here to stay. “Two generations from now, they are going to look at those of us who ate meat in horror and wonder how we allowed our diet to do the damage it did to the planet,” she said. This goes well beyond things like non-dairy milk and yogurts to things like chicken and egg replacements that taste just as good, and even meats made from real meat cells. And people are voting with both how they eat and their money. The brand Just has already sold 10 million egg equivalents of its “Just egg” product made of mung bean and Beyond Meat saw its shares surge more than 500% after its May initial public offering. Who is interested in such new foods? Consumers who are environmentally aware, against animal cruelty, who want to avoid saturated fats and those against mass scale farming and degradation. People are becoming incredibly food conscious, from preteens choosing to be vegetarian through to 40-50 year olds and even senior consumers who are starting to spend with companies who are more mindful about food production.

Protect your brand 
identity online

The digital revolution is causing major disruption in retail and not all of its impact so far has been good for fresh produce brands. One thing Cork is regularly seeing in western countries is a loss of brand identity online, “and the moment you lose that, you lose the ability to command a premium,” she warns. Produce companies that have made double-digit million dollar investments in branding, logos, product photography and marketing in brick and mortar stores can find that online all that aesthetic is lost and instead generic photos of the relevant fruit or vegetable are used to represent their products on sites such as online stores and shoppable recipe platforms. Similarly, the product descriptions are often bland and fail to transmit what is special about the brand. The fact that these problems are not the norm in China, which pioneered online retail and appreciates brands, shows all this is not due to a lack of technology, Cork stressed.


How to proactively prepare for the future

  • Sign up for omni channel shopping – it’s the fastest way to learn about what’s happening with brands, replenishment and recipe lists, and so on. Download and try shopping apps and services like Amazon Go, Peapod, etc.
  • Say your brand’s name into voice – assisted shopping apps and see what happens. Cork says you may be surprised – most brands don’t cut the mustard because their name is too complex or associated with another, non-produce brand.
  • Be clear on your brand strategy –  you need to define who you are and who you are targeting because voice will completely change the way you need to market your product.
  • Learn how to optimise how your brand looks online –  including creating high impact tiny images for people shopping on phones.
  • Prepare to make mistakes – that’s the only way you’ll learn what works, especially in places like China where you have to jump in and adapt your brand strategy on the fly.
  • Find plant based protein products and eat them. Participate in the trend.
  • Seek out the leading companies among AgTech startups and understand the 
    innovation they bring to the industry.


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FRUITOP: Press Event at Dubai 2019

Magdalini Chatzi, Project Manager at NOVACERT, Greece, speaking at "FRUITOP" event.


On November 13th 2019, a very successful presentation of the European campaign ‘’FRUITOP’’ took place at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. The event was attended by more than 90 people, consisting of representatives from major fresh fruit import companies, distributors, retailers, chefs, bloggers and journalists, who had the opportunity to learn about the importance of consumption of the European fresh fruits produced in Greece.

The event honored with the presence of the Head of the Greek Embassy for Commercial and Trade affairs, Mrs. Kostopoulou Maria.

The key note speaker Mr. Orfanos Takis (journalist and editor of Froutonea magazine) presented elements related to the cultivation and production of the fresh fruits (peaches, nectarines, kiwis, cherries, apples, grapes etc) promoted by “FRUITOP” European campaign, as well as all the necessary systems of integrated management and certification adopted by the producers of the participating coops. Especially, regarding safety standards, it was noted that the fruits produced in Greece, closely follow the European legislation and are certified with ISO 9001, ISO 22000 (HACCP), ISO 14001, BRC, IFS, ensuring the correct procedure at all stages of production, packaging and marketing. Cultivation is based on certified integrated management systems such as AGRO 2, and under internationally recognized protocols like GlobalGap ensuring the limited use of pesticides and fertilizers, in order to protect the consumer and the environment as well.

On behalf of the implementation body of the campaign, NOVACERT ltd. – one of the largest Greek consulting companies for promoting European products from the agri-food sector –  Mrs. Chatzi Magdalini introduced to the audience the main objectives of the campaign, that will be achieved by implementing numerous promotional actions in order to increase branding and marketing value of the European fresh fruits produced in Greece, as both factors are very essential in the highly competitive and demanding market of the Middle East.

Also, representatives of the Association of Producer Organizations of the project, attended the event, namely, Mr. Koutliampas Nikolaos, Mr. Balanis Efthymis, Mr. Poulianas Nikolaos, and Mr. Tziouras Vasileios  from ASEPOP Velventos,  Mr.Nikolaos Mavridis  from the Agricultural Cooperative “Quality – Simvolo” and Mr. Samaras Dimitrios from the Agricultural Cooperative of Zagora. Afterwards, a live cooking show took place where two chefs prepared sushi filled with fresh fruits and then dinner was served.

The event took place while “FRUITOP” participates at WOP Dubai 2019, from November 12th until 14th, 2019.  

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GO MANGO, expects to double production in under 3 years

Since 2001, GO MANGO has been producing Keitt mangoes in Puerto Rico. It currently has 1,000 acres in production, representing 200 annual export containers, and 500 acres are now being incorporated. “When we started the company, we planted the trees in a more compact area with the idea of ​​acquiring more land in the future, moving the trees and expanding. We have just acquired a transplant machine and expect to double production in less than three years,” said Eileen Rodríguez, quality & compliance manager. The main market for GO MANGO is the EU, where 75% of the fruit is destined and where the largest customer base is concentrated. “The Netherlands and Germany are the main markets, although we are seeing that the UK is demanding more and more volume. Our interest is to continue expanding and raising brand awareness,” said Rodríguez. The firm also exports green mango to the US, especially for Asian consumers in that country. Rodriguez announced that the company’s next acquisition is a system of “forced cold”, a technology that cools the fruit quickly, slowing the ripening process and extending the life of the fruit. In addition to having certificates such as GLOBALG.AP, GRASP, Tesco and SMETA, in 2011, GO MANGO completed the integration of the fruit washing process with solar thermal heating, which allows it to heat all the water necessary for sterilising and processing mangoes before refrigeration and shipment. This saves 80% of energy resources. Similarly, the firm has installed solar panels on the roof of the packaging house, which allows it to produce 100% of the energy for its operations.

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The London Produce Show and Conference presents platform to create crucial personal connections

Record international attendees convene at The London Produce Show and Conference 2019

Produce industry professionals are signing up quickly to attend The London Produce Show and Conference 2019 (LPS) in order to network face-to-face at the UK’s leading global fresh produce event that connects suppliers with major international buyers.

According to the organisers, registrations are officially open for the sixth edition of the hugely popular show, which takes place on June 5-7, 2019 at the Grosvenor House on London’s iconic Park Lane.

Attendees will connect personally with customers to communicate more effectively, to create personal connections, to build credibility, to earn trust and respect, to find solutions and to accelerate their business growth.

Hannah Gorvin, Chief Marketing Officer for The LPS comments: “Trade shows are critical to sales, marketing and business growth strategies in this increasingly digital age. Whether you are shaking hands with new business prospects or interacting face-to-face with existing customers, being present at a trade show remains the most effective way to answer questions and to make your message resonate in order to drive forward your business.”

The London Produce Show and Conference is presented by the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) and Produce Business magazine.

Nigel Jenney, CEO of the FPC, adds: “The collaboration of the teams at The London Produce Show and Conference and the Fresh Produce Consortium has brought to the UK fresh produce industry a unique partnership.

“This is reaping the positive result of bringing the global produce industry to the UK to reinforce the opportunity of trading with the UK both pre- and post-Brexit, which is especially important considering the UK imports two-thirds of its fresh fruit and vegetable supply.

“Looking ahead, we remain committed to maintaining and developing our long-term partnerships with growers and suppliers from around the world, whatever changes Brexit may bring.”

The London Produce Show and Conference features three high-level conferences, The Perishable Pundit’s Thought Leader Breakfast Panel, a trade exhibition, networking occasions, educational seminars and chef demonstrations, as well as industry tours.

Register online now at