Carlos Fernández, CEO of Fernández Global Fruit Group, explains to Fruit Today euromagazine some of the company’s main lines of action
How is the Fernández Group experiencing the ‘new normality’ and how has the Covid-19 crisis affected it?
Regarding our distribution company and given the sector we belong to, we don’t understand the ‘new normality’ concept. From the beginning of the healthcare crisis, we started up all the control and safety measures that would allow us to continue working with relative normality, and we continue to do this. Our sale quota to HORECA wholesalers has been affected and now, in the summer season, the sales for tourism areas have also been touched. On the other hand, our position with Mass Organised Distribution (MOD) has allowed us to maintain our sales, with even small service upswings. The COVID-19 crisis has affected, and continues to affect our society as a whole; we just hope that the negative impact can be reversed over the next months.
What do you think has changed in the sector from the 14th of March until now? And what is your opinion about the second half of the year?
It is an unquestionable reality that the MOD has been gaining market share in recent years. Our perception and evolution is that the companies in the fruit and vegetable sector must become more professional and specialised in order to respond, not to the distribution clients, but directly to consumers. The population is not growing and, if you want to evolve, you must look at the new consumer shopping models, observe and adapt.
How have the different categories you operate with and where you are ‘giants’ (bananas, potatoes, etc.) developed?
We continue to back our banana and plantain ripening profile. Adapting to the changes in the sector means identifying your strengths and boosting them. We generate value in marketing and distribution with the ripening process. As in the case of potatoes, we prepare the different formats at our installations in Barcelona. Generating value is the key to our company, shown by our slogan, ‘Value to Distribution.’
You are integrated into the Orsero Group. What does this mean with regard to the daily work?
Our link with the Orsero Group goes back to the 1990s. We have been partners for over 20 years. Now, we form part of the Group and the Fernández family has a place on the multinational’s Board of Directors. The operational relationship is highly dynamic due to our history together, therefore we try to take advantage of the international synergies that being in the same company offers us. We share know-how to improve as a group; in my opinion, this alliance brings nothing but advantages.
Will you be part of the Biomarket?
Yes, in the end we will have three stands. Our aim is to open new divisions that project different lines of service. Bio or ecological food is a growing niche, given society’s awareness about these principles. Ecological farming is already very important in Spain, more so than the consumption itself; it is only a question of time for these variables to line up. Additionally, within our product range we already have some ecological references in our portfolio with considerable volumes: bananas, kiwis, plantains, pineapples, etc. We hope that the new Biomarket will be well received.
Total marketed volume last year and increases or decreases.
In 2019 we handled 230,000 tonnes; around 30,000 more than in 2018, and to do this we acquired the ripening company Sevimpor, in Seville. It has been a good year overall and in particular, this was a good operation, since we needed to establish our company in the south and the choice of the team from Sevimpor was excellent.
We hope that 2020 doesn’t get worse due to the Covid question and that we can end the year with a positive balance sheet.