Berries are now one of the fastest-growing fresh-produce categories in terms of consumption, and last year, they experienced astonishing growth in both the Nordic countries and the Netherlands.
Driscoll’s EMEA managing director, Theo Houwen, says that this is only the beginning, as the berry company is winning the hearts of many more shoppers around the world. He believes that the secret to this is Driscoll’s exceptional product varieties, combined with an effective in-store approach.
“In the Nordics, the berry category is already heading to the number-one position in the retail sales' top three. Especially, Norway and Denmark are clear indicators of retail-market trends, and are setting an example for other European countries when looking to the growing number of people who enjoy berries on a daily basis,” Houwen says.
“I believe this is the result of our focus on a specific group of consumers, who are looking for a healthy lifestyle through sports and conscious foods. They want to enjoy tasty meals that fit their way of life and that will bring them a feeling of happiness.”
Driscoll’s is continuously investing in developing unique varieties to meet the needs of different markets, recognising, for example, that while French customers may prefer aromatic berries, German shoppers look for pure sweetness.
However, what European customers do have in common is a wish for consistent quality throughout the year, which, Houwen explains, is why Driscoll’s is focusing on long-term cooperation with growers in Europe and Africa, who are dedicated to working to the company’s high standards.
“This will allow us to deliver delicious products, no matter the time of the year. In addition, we are investing in our cold chain so that we can strengthen our temperature management and increase the shelf life of our berries, making sure our fruits stay fresh after arriving in store,” he says.
Driscoll’s senior vice-president is also convinced that to target the berry shopper, the company has to work together with its retail partners.
"I clearly remember the first time a pallet of delicious Dutch blackberries was coming from the fields. For years, blackberries were known for their sour taste and poor quality, but these berries where so fresh and sweet."
"It was something Europe had never tasted before. Sadly, there was not much interest from the market in blackberries at that time, due to their unsuccessful history. By sharing our blackberry revival with retailers, they slowly started to see the big potential of these fruits."
Houwen adds that the overall quality of the berry market is increasing, with more retailers being able to offer berries year round. He notes that with berry shoppers spending twice as much as regular shoppers in store, knowing who these consumers are can make a difference in a maturing market.
"We therefore support our retail partners with shopper insights and tailored category advice to get the most out of their in-store presentation and, ultimately, out of their berry turnover," he says.
He concludes by saying that its Driscoll’s job to make sure that berries remain as more than just as commodity, and that consumers keep associating the brand with quality and build an emotional connection with it.
"That is how we realise the true potential of this happy category. In the end, eating berries is always a little party, whether you enjoy them as a snack, put them in your morning yoghurt, or share them with your family and friends."
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