Indian fruit marketer INI Farms is tapping into the trend for on-the-go fruit as the trend for convenient snacking lends itself to the company’s pre-packed mango and pomegranate.
Speaking with PBUK during last week’s Fruit Logistica, INI Farms sales and supply chain general manager, Kalpesh Khivasara describes how although convenience is also an emerging segment in India, Britain is “the place” to push pre-cut, pre-packed fresh fruit as a healthy snacking alternative.
“The UK market is always growing in this category; people want convenience and to be able to eat their fruit with ease and as a healthy alternative to things like chocolate and chips,” says Khivasara.
“To do that we have to supply good quality premium fruit, nicely washed, prepared and packed so it can go into a child’s lunchbox or be eaten easily in the office.
“There is a growing trend in eating healthy snacks, instead of eating non-healthy food, now people start focusing on fruits and vegetables as snacking options.”
Cut mango and pomegranate arils are already packed and supplied to UK retailers including Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer, following some earlier trials.
“People want attractive fruit presented easily and without any mess involved. They don’t have the time to select the best quality fruit, so we are trying to make it easier for them because we’ve already selected the best quality and handled it in a safe way.
“Pomegranates are more difficult than mango, although some people struggle to cut a mango, you can buy mango and cut it at home. However, pomegranate is a messy fruit which takes a lot of time to peel and prepare properly.
“Our mango is available in the UK and the pomegranates go to Europe where we have them distributed in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia.”
The Totapuri mango variety is being used in INI Farms packs.
“Because India is such a large country, what usually happens is the production starts from South India and slowly moves to North India. So from the end of January and February you have South Indian states starting the production, and by June, early July you move to North India with mango in general.
Especially in Europe and USA, people prefer to have it in a convenience pack which is why we have had trials over the last few months. We give them several tests and this is now launched properly and we’ve started shipping.”
Speaking about India’s recovery from the mango ban a couple of years ago, Khivasara said the entire sector has become much more sensitive about phytosanitary issues and best practice throughout the supply chain.
“The exporting promotional body has stringent measures in place now, and that’s the reason that the ban was also lifted earlier than initially planned. But the ban definitely created a sensitivity for the exporters who are now focusing on post harvest facilities and logistics to ensure fruit is the right quality for European markets.
“Earlier they were focusing more on open market purchases, where there is not so much discipline.”
INI Farms filed patent applications for a series of new characters to promote fruit consumption amongst children last autumn.
Mini bananas, are included in the Kimaye brand which, a few months after being launched, is making waves in the country, says Khivasara.
“It is difficult to get kids to eat fruit and vegetable and this is also the case in India. Where we come in with the Kimaye brand is to make our fruit exciting and interesting for children.
“We have stickers on the fruit which kids love and the promotion is all about getting them away from junk food and making healthy choices.
“The mini bananas are the perfect size for kids and we launched in November 2016 with Tesco India and have been getting some very good feedback. We are planning another promotion with them for next month.”
Another poignant factor for the Kimaye brand in the domestic market is to promote the safety of fruit, says Khivasara. India has a history of challenges and there are still struggles in the supply chain, so the Kimaye brand is focused on fun as well as convincing consumers they will always get safe, clean and premium quality fruit.
“Food safety is a very important factor in India and in some cases, not with us, there have been problems with organisation.
“We are working directly with the farmers to make sure we know what happens at farm level. The fruit is harvested, it goes to our pack house for processing and packing and then transported directly to retailers.”