QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Spain 2020 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

The key to Bollo International Fruits' successful expansion into 15 countries is keeping every stakeholder's interests at the center of its strategy.

BIOGRAPHY

José Vercher has dedicated his career to the production and commercialization of the fruit sector. A strategist and visionary, he has managed to create a benchmark company with national and international scope. For seven years, he has been the patron of the chair of culture directive of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. He is also part of the Valencian Business Association (AVE), a founding partner of the Citrus Price Table of the Consulate of the Lonja of Valencia, and a member of the Committee of Fruits and Vegetables of AECOC.

Can you tell us about Bollo's history and evolution?
Bollo International Fruits is a family business that was created by my grandfather in 1922. We initially sold fruit that was produced in Valencia's Valldigna valley. The greatest challenge for any business is to be fair to everyone: consumers, providers, employees, and the environment. In 2018, we sold 180 million kilos of oranges, melons, watermelons, lemons, avocado, grapefruit, stone fruits, and a wide range of tropical fruits. We are the world's largest producer of the Santa Claus melon. We are looking to incorporate more fruits and increase avocado sales by starting our own production. It is important for us that the final consumer gets the same type of quality throughout the year. Around 16 years ago, we internationalized our production by establishing Bollo Brazil. Today, about 30,000 tons of melons travel from Brazil to Spain.

Is any of your production in Brazil sold in the Latin American market?
No. The melon has a particular consumer culture in each country. The consumption for the Santa Claus melon is highest in Spain and Portugal. French-speaking countries prefer Charentais melons. We sell the same amount of melons in summer and winter. The season in Spain begins between May and June and extends until September. When the season is about to finish in Spain, we start in Brazil, which is active from October to March. Then, we go to Senegal until June. This allows us to stay in business throughout the year.

Bollo won the Taste of the Year award in 2019. Does the company invest in improving its quality?
We invest a heavily in improving the quality of our produce. We also invest heavily in advertising. Regarding innovation and the Santa Claus melon—which has about 150 variations—we do follow-up tests and develop different varieties in a single year in all our fields. We are at the forefront of all sorts of innovations.

Does Bollo use its infrastructure to make production more sustainable, and how has Bollo advanced on the issue of sustainability?
Valencia has a strong agricultural tradition. Most of the existing varieties of tomato, pepper, zucchini, and eggplants come from Valencia. In terms of sustainability, we have a water-saving program to reduce water wastage. No country can match the level of food security and freshness of the produce in Spain. The next generation of consumers will be even more demanding and will have access to a wide range of fruits. Spain's best bet for the future is not on the quantity but rather the quality of its produce.

Which countries represent your biggest markets?
Over the last four years, we have entered 15 countries with great success. These countries are also producers, but Spanish production gives them more security. China is a good example, where we have been present for more than three years. We also send fruit to Canada, the UAE, and Singapore. Although European consumption for some fruit categories, such as citrus, has decreased, we continue to grow by 6%.

What are Bollo's goals for 2020?
We intend to continue with our policy of being fair to the various stakeholders involved in our sector. Our goal is to be consistent with the quality of our fruit and maintain our high standards. We are going to continue developing more varieties of melons and citrus fruits. We want to be the best seller of avocados globally. Our avocado plantations are new and began growing last year, using the best technology that exists. The important thing is to have the professionalism and follow the stages of nature regarding flowering and its cycles. By following these guidelines, we will be able to produce the best quality avocados and differentiate ourselves. We are innovating our packaging to attract the young generation. It is important to adapt according to the demands of the market. We are determined to use the best technologies and respect the environment.