FROM THE GROUND UP

Mexico 2016 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Bernardo Baader, Director General of AGRANA Fruit Mexico, on the growth of the local berry industry, leveraging sustainability, and the future of berry production.

Bernardo Baader
BIOGRAPHY
Bernardo Baader has been the CEO of Agrana Fruit Mexico since 2014. He has 10 years of experience as General Manager. From 2013 to 2014 he carried projects for Alicorp Argentina and worked for Alpa from 2003 to 20014, serving as General Manager for Colombia, Venezuela, and Argentina. He is fluent in Spanish, German, English and Portuguese.

What role has AGRANA played in the development of the berry industry in Michoacan?

When we started operations in Zamora 30 years ago, this was a potato-growing region. We have spent 30 years building knowledge here. We have had support from the government and also a lot of local support from the former AGRANA companies. This area turned into a strawberry region. We have only one site in Mexico, but we work with several co-packers. Over the past 30 years, most of these have started as small facilities that worked for us, and many have grown to become full-fledged competitors. 30 years ago, only AGRANA was doing fruit preparations, whereas there are now more than 10 companies, between six and eight of which are local companies or companies that were sold later to other international companies. AGRANA helped them develop business models not only in the region of Zamora in the state of Michoacan, but also in the state of Jalisco.

How do you integrate eco-friendliness and sustainability into your operations and what impact does this have on the surrounding community?

We work under different policies and systems. One is the sustainable production, which is obtained when we confirm with an external auditor or system that we are doing it the right way. Many of our farms are sustainable, and we implemented the same green-oriented production systems we have in Europe here in Mexico, saving energy and fuel. We are sustainable from the fruit in the field through operation, services, and social responsibility initiatives. Since beginning here, I have always told my staff that we are here to make more money for AGRANA, so AGRANA invests more money in Mexico to create more jobs in the Zamora-Jacona region. We represent a large part of the strawberry production in the Zamora-Jacona area and some neighboring cities where we also developed farmers.