疫情继续在世界各地蔓延,但中国已开始逐渐步入正轨,恢复生活的常态。尽管人们仍在努力应对严格的隔离带来的经济后果,但有些人已经在寻找方法来利用这次疫情带来的新机会。

中国新鲜水果的进口似乎没有停止的迹象,进口年价值已达到惊人的669亿人民币。事实上,疫情不仅推动了对进口商品的持续需求,而且还推动了消费者购买行为的转变。在人们更加关注食品安全的情况下,消费者对透明度和可追溯性的意识增强。

木星集团(Jupiter Group)是准备满足这一不断增长的需求的公司之一,是英国发展最快的新鲜农产品企业之一。木星今天在南非,智利,希腊,印度和香港设有办事处。水果门户网站采访了集团的夫妻创始人Mark和Yvonne Tweddle,了解他们的业务,让木星成​走到如今屡获殊荣的全球公司的旅程以及其在中国及其他地区的计划。

您能告诉我们有关公司和您的工作情况吗?

马克:木星种植并供应新的和传统的葡萄和柑橘品种,以及瓜,菠萝,酸橙,鳄梨和猕猴桃。我在大学期间,曾在假期担任拖拉机司机,也因此接触到新鲜农产品行业。我们在2003年建立了木星,一开始我们有的只有一张白纸和电话,但到了2008年我们已经开始国际销售,今天我们已成为全球水果市场上最大的参与者之一。

伊冯娜:我们从一开始就一直专注于真正参与我们产品的增长并完全融入供应链。我们已经在智利,南非,希腊和印度等国家/地区建立了种植者网络,以确保为消费者提供全年的全球供应。

我们的全球供应有多种来源,这使我们能够真正打造从种子和树苗到货架的透明供应链,确保我们所有的种植者和供应商都通过采用最佳举措保证产品达到到英国标准。

在竞争日益激烈的环境中,您如何确保自己脱颖而出?

马克:显然,我们是农产品种植者而不仅仅是交易商。我认为正是这种动手实践的承诺,这种带给全球消费者高质量,美味和新颖的水果品种的承诺,使我们与竞争对手区分开来。我们在整个供应链上拥有真正的实力。

我们不断研究新方法,以将我们的产品更有效地带给消费者。对于任何果农或分销商来说,物流都是一个挑战。我们不仅面临有限的保质期,而且产品在运输过程中也容易受到损坏。为了克服这一挑战,我们着眼于研发。例如,我们的新无籽白葡萄品种ARRA 15(ARRA Sweeties™)不仅具有出众的口味,以其酥脆多汁的食用品质为特征,该品种还具有很长的保存期限,其独特的耐用性意味着该葡萄能够承受运输过程并以最佳状态接触消费者。

我们还是世界上唯一一家合法地将新的专业葡萄品种带到印度的公司,并且是生产ARRA鲜食葡萄品种的主许可证持有人。这意味着我们拥有生产这些葡萄品种的唯一权利,并且获得了其他竞争者无法拿到的许可。此外,我们在希腊也拥有这些品种的独家经营权。我们所有的生产都达到了最高的生产资格,我们称之为木星标准。

伊冯娜:我们的创新努力还来自于我们如何管理整个业务。管理如此复杂多面的供应链并不容易,特别是考虑到新鲜农产品的时间紧迫性和快速变化的消费者需求。这就是为什么我们对数字技术的前瞻性方法感到自豪,该方法为企业提供了所需的敏捷性,灵活性和可追溯性。

从在包装车间中集成专业包装设备到全球智能管理解决方案(无论是无纸化还是进一步简化流程),我们都尽可能引进了高科技机器来提高效率。我们很快还会有更多的利用供应链透明度的应用。

中国是您的主要市场之一。您如何利用需求?您目前在中国看到哪些趋势和机会?

马克:随着中国的消费升级,越来越多的中国消费者对新鲜农产品的质量,安全性和及时交付寄予更高的期望和优先地位。消费者想知道他们的食物来自哪里以及如何被带到他们面前。

而且在疫情期间,我们已经看到了消费者对更加透明和可追溯的食品的需求。我们相信这将是消费者观念上的一个永久转变,因为消费者会重新评估他们放入体内的食物,并会想了解食物的来源和做法。

我们认为木星的故事恰好符合这种消费者对更多知识和透明度的需求。我们追踪产品从种子到货架的整个流程,这使我们能够与消费者分享旅程的每一步,以便他们在购买时做出明智的决定。

为了进一步追溯该可追溯性,我们目前正在业务中启用区块链技术。它将能够实时跟踪水果的来源,这将改善我们新鲜农产品供应链中的总体透明度,标准化和效率,并更好地向我们的消费者保证我们的水果来源和质量。我们希望能够在今年晚些时候分享更多细节,我们相信这对于消费者来说也是一个巨大的卖点。

伊冯娜:我们很清楚,高质量和安全的产品正迅速成为中国消费者的基本标准。下一步是研究如何尽快将其交付给他们,并在他们想要的地方更好地满足他们的需求。

在中国拥有众多令人兴奋的零售概念时,与我们志趣相投的分销商和零售商合作可以为我们赢得胜利,他们可以为消费者提供无缝的浏览,订购和付款体验。这创造了安全采购,卓越质量和良好体验三要素,所有这些都为我们在中国的成功做出了贡献。

COVID-19已对所有行业产生了前所未有的全球影响。在这场持续的大流行中,像木星集团这样的公司如何发展和适应?

马克:为了直接应对COVID-19大流行,我们正在采取一切必要措施,以确保我们继续履行对员工,客户和零售商的责任。我们使命宣言的一部分是使我们的客户,供应商和员工处于同等地位,并且我们在疫情中继续做到这一点。例如,就我们的产品而言,我们在一开始包装时就一步到位,包装到可以在终端销售,这减少了整个生产过程中的处理次数。我们已经为员工配备了相关的PPE,并正在全球范围内对站点访问进行临时检查。现在消费已经转移到网上,我们正在学习紧跟潮流。

大流行还重申了我们对提供稳定和顺畅的供应链的承诺。全世界为减轻病毒传播而采取的措施已导致全球贸易的重大中断。在中国,随着国家停止粮食出口,粮食供应和安全问题已成为迫切关注的问题。借助我们的全球供应链和分销中心,我们可以很好地满足短期和长期需求,并继续为中国消费者带来安全,优质和营养丰富的水果。

您未来的计划是什么?

伊冯娜:尽管疫情给我们带来了前所未有的挑战,但我们在整个业务中看到的一件事就是对新鲜水果的需求增加,我们正在研究战略并使其适应新的常态。这种情况也使我们有一个强制的时限重新评估我们的流程和工作方式,以实现我们“持续改进”的核心价值之一。我们的目标是通过继续增加价值,集中运营并最大程度地提高我们所有核心产品在新品种上的效率和投资来进一步发展公司。我们也正在探索用我们的产品吸引消费者的新方法,并继续巩固木星的英国传统,质量和标准以及对种子到货架的保证。

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As the world continues to reel from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has begun to show promising signs of establishing a “new normal”, with the nation ready to press on with life after the outbreak.

While companies and even whole industries are still grappling with the economic ramifications on the back of strict national containment measures, there are some who are already looking at ways to tap into new opportunities shaped by this pandemic.

One sector where there seems to be no signs of stopping is China’s fresh fruit imports, which already stands at a staggering annual value of USD9.5 billion (RMB 66.9 billion). The pandemic has not only driven continued demand for imports, but it has also driven a shift in consumer purchasing behaviour, such as a heightened awareness towards transparency and traceability amidst greater concerns for food safety.

One such company that is poised to tap into this growing demand is Jupiter Group, one of the UK’s fastest-growing fresh produce businesses. Jupiter’s international operation today includes offices in South Africa, Chile, Greece, India and Hong Kong. China Fruit Portal spoke to the husband-and-wife founders Mark and Yvonne Tweddle to learn more about their business, the journey behind growing Jupiter to become the award-winning global company it is today, and its plans for China and beyond.

Can you tell us a bit about the company and what you do?

Mark: Jupiter grows and supplies new and traditional varieties of grapes and citrus alongside melons, pineapples, limes, avocados and kiwi. The Jupiter story started when I got a taste of the fresh produce business during my holiday job as a tractor driver in my university days. We started in 2003 with a blank sheet of paper and a telephone and grew to kick off international sales in 2008, we haven’t looked back since. Today, we are one of the biggest players in the global fruit market.

Yvonne: Our focus from the start has been to be truly involved in the growing of our produce and be fully integrated in the supply chain. We have grown our network of growers spanning around the world, in countries including Chile, South Africa, Greece, and India, in order for us to ensure a worldwide, year-round supply for consumers.

With our global supply originating from various sources, it has allowed us to really champion true transparent supply chains, right from seed and sapling through to the shelf, ensuring all our growers and suppliers uphold the quality of our produces to British standards through the best practices that we have in place.

In this increasingly competitive landscape, how do you make sure you stand out as a business?

Mark: We are clear that we are growers of our produce, not just trading commodities. And I think it is exactly this hands-on commitment to bringing global consumers high quality, delicious and new fruit varieties, that really sets us apart from our competitors.  We have a true handle on the complete supply chain.

We are constantly innovating and researching new ways to bring our produce more effectively and efficiently to consumers. Logistics can be a challenge for any fruit grower or distributor – not only are we faced with a traditionally limited shelf life, but the produce can also be susceptible to damage during transit. To overcome that challenge, we looked to research and development. Our new seedless white grape variety, ARRA 15 (ARRA Sweeties™) for example is not only developed with superior taste – characterised by its crisp and juicy eating quality – the variety also possesses a long shelf life, and its unique durability means that this grape is equipped to withstand the shipping process and reach consumers in prime condition.

We are also the only company in the world to legally take new and specialised varieties of grape to India, and are Master License holders to produce the ARRA table grape varieties. This means we have the sole rights to produce these variety of grapes, and are licensed to do what other competitors cannot. In addition we have exclusivity to these varieties in Greece too.  All our production is grown to the highest production credentials which we call the Jupiter Standard.

Yvonne: Our strive for innovation also comes through in how we manage the business as a whole. Managing such a complex, multi-faceted supply chain is not without its challenges, especially given the time-critical nature of fresh produce and fast-changing consumer demands. Which is why we pride ourselves in our forward-thinking approach to digital technology, which provides the business with the agility, flexibility and traceability it requires.

We have introduced hi-tech machinery whenever possible to make us more efficient, from integrating specialist packing equipment in pack houses, to global intelligent management solutions that enable us to be paperless and further streamline our processes. We also have some upcoming developments in the pipeline to leverage true supply chain transparency.

China is one of your key markets – how are you tapping into the demand? What are the trends and opportunities you see in China currently?

Mark: In tandem with China’s consumption upgrade, China’s increasingly discerning consumers are placing higher expectations and priority on the quality, safety and prompt delivery of fresh produce. Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and how it has been brought to them.

And we are seeing this mindset and demand for more transparent and traceable food further reaffirmed during COVID-19. We therefore believe that this will be a more permanent consumer mindset shift as consumers reassess what they are putting into their bodies and move towards an event greater demand to understand the origins and practises behind their food.

We feel that the Jupiter story fits right into this consumer need for greater knowledge and transparency. We follow our fresh produce from seed to shelf, which allows us to share each step of that journey with our consumers in order for them to make an informed decision when purchasing.

To take that traceability story a few steps further, we are currently investing in blockchain technology in our business. It will enable real-time tracking of a fruit’s origin, which will improve overall transparency, standardisation and efficiency throughout our fresh produce supply chain, and better assure our consumers of our fruits’ origin and quality. We are excited that we will be able to reveal greater detail on this later in the year, which we believe will also be a huge selling point for consumers.

Yvonne: It is clear to us that high quality and safe produce are quickly becoming the baseline criteria for Chinese consumers. The next step is looking at how we can get it to them as quickly as possible and better serve their needs when they want it, where they want it.

With so many exciting retail concepts in China, the route to winning for us is working with like-minded distributors and retailers who can provide consumers with a seamless browsing, ordering and payment experience. This creates a trifactor of safe sourcing, excellent quality and engaging experience, which all contributes to our success in China.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented global impact across all industries. How is a company like Jupiter evolving and adapting during this ongoing pandemic?

Mark: In direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that we continue to meet our responsibilities towards our employees, customers and retailers. Part of our mission statement is to put our customers, suppliers and employees at the forefront in equal measure and we have continued to do that through the evolving pandemic. For example, in terms of our products, we are packing them at the source into packaging that is ready for sale, which reduces the amount of product handling throughout the production process. We have equipped our people with the relevant PPE and are temp checking at site access globally, life has moved online and we are learning to embrace this.

The pandemic has also reaffirmed our commitment to providing a stable and smooth supply chain. Measures around the world to mitigate the spread of the virus has led to major disruptions in global trade. In China, food supply and security has surfaced as a pressing concern as countries stopped food exports. With our global supply chain and distribution hubs, we are well placed to meet short- and long-term needs, and continue to bring safe, quality and nutritious fruits to consumers in China.

What are your plans for the future?

Yvonne: While the pandemic has presented us with unprecedented challenges, one constant thing we are seeing across our business is an increase in demand for fresh fruit, and we are looking at our strategy and adapting it to this new normal. The situation also blessed us with a forced time frame to reassess our processes and our way of working to live up to one of our core values of ‘continual improvement’.  Our goal is to further grow the company – by continuing to add value, centralising operations and maximising efficiency and investment in new varieties across all our core products. We are also exploring new ways to reach out to consumers with our product, and continue to cement Jupiter’s British heritage, quality and standards, and seed-to-shelf assurance amongst consumers.

The Jupiter Group is a leader in the global fresh produce market. Ranked 17th in the 2020 The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, Jupiter grows and supplies new and traditional varieties of grapes and citrus alongside melons, pineapples, limes, avocados and kiwi.

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