Two years ago Berryway took on an ambitious challenge: to create a premium brand of berries in a market, the Italian one, where the berries category was still in the early stages of development.
Esselunga welcomed Berryway's project and therefore gave shelf space to this group of four leading companies. The "Primo Gusto" line, which Berryway distributes exclusively through Esselunga, therefore has a market positioning that is the result of the collaboration between manufacturer and large-scale retail trade.
In this exclusive interview with Italian Berry, Romualdo Riva (General Manager of Berryway) reveals the background of the first project to develop the premium segment in the Italian market of berries.
What is the fundamental concept that inspired the creation of Berryway?
We started by creating an international network of highly qualified partners who could field a range of premium varieties 52 weeks a year. We then put this offer at the service of the Italian market, betting in particular on the premium segment.
Are you already able to draw a first balance after two years?
The project is working well: numbers are growing and we are seeing good consumer loyalty. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a space for the premium segment on the shelves of berries in Italy too.
With 'Primo Gusto' you have chosen a very strong positioning in terms of both price and format.
We have set our sights high in order to differentiate ourselves more clearly from the standard lines: in terms of format we have set our sights on 160g for both blueberries and raspberries (apart from the winter period when we use 125g for raspberries). In addition, the price per kg of the 'Primo Gusto' brand is always above the market average. We are pleased to note that with this combination of heavier formats and higher prices, sales are still growing steadily.
To find out the price differentials achieved by the "Primo Gusto" brand, access theMyfruit.it Observatory berries , which periodically surveys prices in Italian large-scale retail outlets.
How is the exclusive character of your offer characterised?
From a product point of view, we have moved on several dimensions; for example, the main features of blueberries "Primo Gusto" are:
- crunchiness: the 'croc' effect is crucial to the consumer's shopping experience and we have identified it as the main character to be guaranteed for our blueberries;
- Balanced flavour: Berryway's premium blueberries have a balanced flavour, favouring the right balance between sugars and acids;
- size: while we guarantee fruit that is normally medium to large in size (14-16mm), we have found that this trait is not the main element in the consumer's evaluation process and therefore we consider it an accessory characteristic: welcome but not decisive.
What preferences have you identified in the taste of the Italian consumer at blueberries?
For blueberries we are focusing on varieties with a balanced taste, characterised by low acidity and a good sugar content. Varieties that are too acidic are generally not liked, so we focus our offer on other cultivars with a more balanced taste.
What other aspects have been taken into account when defining your range?
Managing the satisfaction of a consumer who experiences 10-20 different fruits in one act of consumption was a decisive challenge from the outset. This is why we give absolute priority to a homogeneous taste experience, avoiding variability between soft and crunchy fruits or between sweet and sour tasting fruits. If you buy a pack of blueberries premium, you can be sure that you will take home many equally tasty and satisfying fruits.
How do you manage to guarantee all these distinctive features?
The selection work we do at the packaging stage would not be sufficient to achieve the results we are achieving. In fact, serious selection work on the varieties is necessary, together with careful planning and coordination of the producers. So while we only produce varieties with superior characteristics, we also make sure that the product offered on the shelves is homogeneous.
So how do you guarantee the final quality coming out of the packaging lines?
For each of the parameters described, we carry out objective checks during processing in our factories. The aim of the checks is not only to comply with the quality parameters but above all to ensure an overall homogeneous product that completely satisfies the consumer. Fruits that do not guarantee congruence with the parameters of the premium line are diverted to the standard lines.
What are the criteria that guide the choice of varieties?
Over the years, we have selected a number of 6-7 exclusive varieties: these are cultivars that are only available from our growers who alternate between the different global production areas. The varieties have been selected to ensure homogeneity among the fruit and across different periods and areas of origin.
How can you guarantee a 52-week supply per year?
For blueberries the period June to September is currently covered by Italian production, from September to December we move to South Africa, from January we return to the northern hemisphere with Morocco until March, then Spain until May.
For raspberries we are close to guaranteeing an Italian supply for 12 months a year; at the moment we only source from Morocco and Spain for a limited period of 3-4 months a year.
What role will Italy play in Berryway's future?
Berryway's mission is to develop the Italian market of berries. We also have important development plans for our country from a production point of view, with investments planned in particular in Sicily, Calabria and Puglia. Our producers are also present in Lazio and obviously in Piedmont, which represents the current hub of our production in northern Italy.
Will Berryway continue to focus on premium lines?
This segment already accounts for around 75% of our turnover and we plan to continue along this path of development. We are working to increase the satisfaction and loyalty of the Italian consumer and reward our producers.