The season of blueberries kicks off: SEKOYA® varieties are arriving in Italy thanks to partnership projects carried out by RK Growers and SanLucar with farmers throughout the Peninsula. By 2027, the goal is to increase production tenfold.
THE SEKOYA PLATFORM
blueberry will be an increasingly focal fruit for consumers in the near future and, specifically, the prevailing varieties will increasingly include those of SEKOYA®, a B2B marketplace designed to offer a superior Eating Experience: blueberries crispy, long-lasting, tasty and of consistent quality, supplied through a semi-exclusive network of 14 highly qualified members.
For Italy, the partners are RK Growers, a company that produces and markets fruit worldwide, with a focus on new varieties, and the SanLucar Group, specialising in the production and marketing of high-quality fruit and vegetables.
The SEKOYA® cultivars, namely Sekoya Crunch™ 'FC13-083', Sekoya Grande™ 'FC13-122', Sekoya Pop™ 'FCM14-052', and Sekoya Beauty™ 'FC 12-097', were planted in Italy two years ago and immediately produced excellent results. They are in fact varieties characterised by exceptionally large calibre, excellent resistance to handling and transport, but - above all - by organoleptic characteristics that are very different from those of the blueberries known until now. The older varieties, in fact, usually have a pronounced acidity and are often rather soft to the touch. SEKOYA® , on the other hand, have a taste ranging from sub-acidic to sweet, and are particularly crisp.
"Also from a commercial point of view," adds Carlo Lingua, CEO of RK Growers, "the SEKOYA® cultivars are potentially outstanding. Precisely because of their special characteristics, which are clearly different from the varieties marketed so far, there are already all the prerequisites for them to form a separate segment.
This year will be the first testing ground for SEKOYA® varieties with production in Piedmont and other Italian regions, including Southern Italy. Our plan is to achieve a strong production in Italy and worldwide in a few years in order to be able to guarantee SEKOYA® varieties 12 months a year'.
"Our goal is to provide blueberries of the highest quality for as many months of the year as possible, focusing as much as possible on domestic production," - confirms Erminio Colombini, Operation Manager Italy of SanLucar "Currently about 15 hectares of SEKOYA® have been planted in Italy, but thanks to the rapid development of our network of partner farmers operating in many Italian regions, we expect to reach 120 hectares by 2027. Domestic product availability is expected from the end of March to the end of October'.
Meanwhile, the 2022 production will also be in line with the excellent performance typical of SEKOYA® varieties. "This," explain Fall Creek®, the developer of the SEKOYA® varieties, "is by no means a given. In fact, producing blueberries requires high initial investments and agronomic expertise of the highest level. We like to say that quality is the most important thing, which is why we work with partners who guarantee us a product with superior characteristics'.
Several countries around the world are witnessing a very rapid growth in the consumption of blueberries, thanks to the increasing availability of new varieties, which are able to satisfy the needs of consumers and distributors much better than in the past.
Currently, the country with the highest consumption ratio and penetration is Canada, which boasts an annual per capita average of 2.5-3.5 kilos and a penetration of almost 70%. Europe is still a long way from these figures, but countries such as the UK consume between 830 g and 1.3 kg per capita per year and more than 45% of the population buys blueberries.
"We believe that the main activity to be carried out in support of consumption is to work well in the field and in the warehouse to put blueberries on the market that is perfectly healthy for the consumer, beautiful and delicious to eat," Erminio Colombini and Carlo Lingua conclude.
"Obviously, the execution of marketing initiatives that are already well proven in all other food & beverage sectors will also help this project. Thanks to their qualities, our blueberries are already easily identifiable by the consumer, our goal for the coming years will be to make them even more recognisable through a label on the packaging certifying the SEKOYA® origin'.
|SEKOYA® is a B2B marketplace designed to offer the SEKOYA® Eating Experience: blueberries crisp, long-lasting, tasty and with guaranteed consistent quality, supplied through a semi-exclusive network of 14 highly qualified SEKOYA® members. All members, carefully selected growers/traders, share the vision of sustainable berry cultivation to offer the SEKOYA® Eating Experience 52 weeks a year by selling defined volumes directly to all major markets. The actively managed supply platform is based on a combination of factors including variety, service, quality assurance and supply chain coordination, all aimed at satisfying the premium fruit market segment.