Always on the lookout for quality products with a taste identity, Apifood was one of the first to import the oranges with leaves from Portugal. “It took us 4 or 5 years to develop a brand. We had to find the right product, the right producers, the right terroir and a regular supply, to make the difference with the Spanish oranges already marketed in France and Belgium,” explains Eric Tastayre, manager of Apifood. “That’s how we ended up in the Algarve region of Portugal, where the oranges with leaves are certified PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). This certification was the only way for us to guarantee the origin of the product, characterized by its juiciness and sweetness all year round.” The brand Agrumine has been in constant evolution for the past 7 years.
Eric is very clear; he only markets the products if he is certain of their taste quality. “We begin the season around mid-November when we know that the first oranges with leaves taste good. If it is not the case, then we don’t sell the brand for that season.” And to guarantee the quality of the citrus fruits, controls are carried out on all the products in Portugal, and upon arrival in Montauban, before being delivered to the clients. According to Eric, “the goal is that wherever it is consumed, the Agrumine product must taste good.”
The Agrumine includes three main varieties: the Newhall (Eric and his wife presented its deliciously sweet juice at the Fruit Logistica fair), the Navelate and the Valencia. (More information on the varieties here).
“Today, we try to improve the aesthetics of the Portuguese oranges. Because despite their lack of regularity in taste, the Spanish oranges are very well grown in terms of aesthetics. Contrary to the Portuguese oranges which are reliable in taste, but less visually attractive. But since the demand on the Portuguese market is growing, some improvement has been made slowly. And it is important because the consumer is sensitive to it,” explains Eric. “That’s why it is essential to work on the brand. If the consumer associates it with a good taste, it’s a win for us. But for this, the quality must be regular.”
“Ethics is important, we want to focus on local agriculture”
“Initially, we also chose the orange with leaves from Portugal to differentiate it on the shelves from the Spanish orange without leaves. But today, we are also slowly developing other products from Portugal, including oranges without leaves, tangerines and lemons. However, none of the products we will choose to develop in Portugal will represent a competition for our French producers. We are specialized in plums, grapes and pears for the French products, and citrus fruits and Rocha pears for the Portuguese products. Ethically speaking, we do not find it okay to import products from another country, if we can produce them at home. Even in a European free-trade context. We want to focus on local agriculture.” – freshplaza.com