“Working alongside the distribution would be more advisable”

The significant experience of Josep María Cornell, Manager of Girona Fruits, makes him think that joint production-distribution work would be more advantageous.
Josep Maria Cornell girona fruits

In the current context, where consumers are no longer able to distinguish a specific apple variety, a club apple or a brand due to their very similar outer appearance, the executive from the Catalan cooperative believes that “a step forward should be taken and a producer-distributor collaboration should be started up, as investment in a new variety is very high and it means an enormous risk for the producers for many years.”

This type of experience has already been carried out in one of the most popular French supermarket chains, Gran Frais, which has made a highly categorical commitment to a specific type of apple.

Cornell emphasises that “it would be an interesting formula because producers are faced with the dilemma of making an important investment without any marketing certainty. Added to this disadvantage is the fact that the investment must be made for very large volumes.”

“There are two differentiated areas: we, as experts in production and the large distribution, which holds the trump card of marketing and carries out its market research on consumer tastes. Our tastings in varieties are meaningless if, when they reach the distribution, the apples are not sold on the supermarket shelves. Therefore, I think that a close collaboration would be an interesting option for both parties. We would manufacture a car model together, because if I make the investment on my own behalf, in the end you might not like it,” Cornell comments metaphorically.

The most recent contribution in varieties by the cooperative from Bordills is within the FruitFutur programme, with the variety A-84, and of which 50 hectares have already been planted.

The Golden continues to hold an important position, since of the almost 27,000 million kilos produced by the cooperative, 40% corresponds to this variety, the most popular on the Spanish home market.

“It is obvious that there will have to be a variety restructuring, because if new varieties are planted, they will have a negative effect on others. One of the most affected will be the group of red apples such as the Red Chief. However, I think that the Golden will retain its space.”

Saturation of clubs

Regarding the current abundance of clubs, Cornell indicates that “on a production level, the organisation of a variety is very positive,” but he remains reticent about the many inputs that consumers receive due to the excessive amount of clubs.

From his point of view “the future could be moving towards commercial lines with ‘umbrella brands’, which represent a series of varieties that give the option of being offered all year long, as occurs with certain lines of stone fruit.”

Wooden pallets, a sign of sustainability

In recent years important investments have been made in the preparation centre, aimed at becoming more efficient and productive. The most recent one is the extension of the surface area of a floor separate from the main building for its wooden pallets. This improvement has been made because the Catalan cooperative stands out for its mass use of wooden pallets when harvesting fruit, as well as when preparing it.

The use of this type of pallets from local forests is one of the most characteristic elements of Girona Fruits and a very unique sustainability element. However, this year, due to the world economic situation, the cooperative has resorted to purchasing plastic pallets, “mainly because the supply was not guaranteed,” Cornell affirms.

  • ANECOOP: ‘El agua es vida’

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