The past tough season has been alleviated thanks to SAFE’s pre-planning – now top quality produce to overseas markets is guaranteed, says SAFE marketing and sales director, Wibo van den Ende.
Wibo is currently based in Europe to oversee the arrival of the grape harvest from South Africa.
“It helps a lot to be temporarily in Europe while the grapes arrive every week. I have been here since January and will remain until mid March, which is when more than 90% of our grapes will arrive here.
“It’s important to see the quality first hand, and be able to prepack and select the produce and meet all our receivers, who really appreciate the hands-on, personal approach,” says Wibo.
“Another plus is that I can provide immediate details about the market conditions for our packhouses and farm management back in South Africa.
“So far we have had a very successful launch of mixed seedless (mixed white and red as well as white and black seedless) in 10 x 500g packs prepared in the Netherlands. There is also strong demand for our Fair Trade grapes.”
Van den Ende says sales targets for the year include expanding and strengthening SAFE’s European supermarket fruit programmes, and increasing cooperation with Netherlands-based fruit and vegetable importer and distributer, Haluco, as the service provider for the warehousing, cooling, prepacking, distribution and sales.
“We believe we are much better able to guarantee a constant reliable product through checking and selecting at Haluco before we distribute to our end receivers,” says van den Ende.
“In Switzerland we have a full programme and are successfully and consistently supplying Swiss retailer, Coop, with our Fair Trade accredited grapes on a weekly basis.”
While in Europe, van den Ende will be attending Berlin’s Fruit Logistica trade fair where he can be found at the combined Haluco and SAFE stand C06 in Hall 3.2.
In addition to the European market, SAFE also supplies table grapes to China and other Far East countries. SAFE’s Rutger van Wulfen, says the Nuwepos farm near Vanrhynsdorp in the Orange River area is particularly well-positioned for this market, allowing grapes to be harvested three to four weeks earlier than on the Hex River farms.
According to Van Wulfen, the fact that SAFE has been able to get to market “early” with crimson red seedless for the last few years has meant excellent returns for the exporter.
“We can deliver earlier than Australia and Chile, which means we have a unique window to market our products.”
“Nuwepos grapes are already en route to China, where we expect very good results. These days Chinese customers focus more on taste than size, so these grapes will be ideal for this market,” says Van Wulfen.
In the Far East, SAFE has a new client in Vietnam, and will be supplying directly to Big C, the giant retailer with its head office in Thailand and 35 stores around Vietnam.
“We have been supplying clients in Vietnam for many years through agents. Now largely due to SAFE’s growing reputation as producer/exporter we are able to get direct access to our markets – this process is more transparent and cost effective for us as producers and for the retailers,” says Van Wulfen.
“The trend for supermarkets these days is to reduce the supply chain, and work directly with their suppliers which suits SAFE as a producer and exporter,” he concluded.