Blue Whale ends season with record turnover

Candine triples sales and has strong growth in Asian markets
Blue Whale ends season with record turnover
Photo - Blue Whale

With the apple season practically over, the leading French cooperative Blue Whale has announced record turnover figures across all its markets. 

“This season has been defined by a good harvest both in terms of volume and quality” states Marc Peyres, commercial director at Blue Whale. “However, none of this would have been possible without the work we have carried out for years on innovation in order to adapt to changing conditions and market expectations. This is a long journey that encompasses all areas of the business, from farmers to marketing, sales and supply. This success comes from the ongoing effort of everyone, as well as their professionalism,” he adds. 

Candine, Coeur de Reine and Pink Lady were the varieties that brought the most joy to the French company this season. While Candine tripled sales driven by its popularity in Asia, Coeur de Reine conquered the national market by doubling its sales figures in France. Lastly, with remarkable sales growth of 30% globally, Pink Lady represents what Peyres considers to be “the most notable development of the season.” 

Looking to the future, growth continues to depend on innovation for Blue Whale. “90% of the varieties we sell today didn’t exist 35 years ago. It is likely that most of those that we will sell in 30 years do not exist yet” states Peyres. “We must continue to work hard to prepare for the future while supporting the success of varieties such as Pink Lady, which we developed 30 years ago. Coeur de Reine, Candine and others that will emerge will be the ones that succeed in the future," he concludes. 

Supply throughout entire year and sustainable management 

Ensuring the supply of quality fruit 365 days a year in the many markets it operates in, is another of the priorities for Blue Whale. To achieve this, the group of French producers is progressing on different lines of work. They include increasing the production schedule with late-ripening varieties such as Joya, extending the season of the French Pink Lady, investing in cold storage and optimizing the entire process from the harvest to handling in packaging plants.

 The sustainable management of orchards is another of the cornerstones of the company to ensure stable volumes and quality. “Over the last few seasons, the variability in quality due to extreme weather events has determined the dynamics of markets. We must be ready for climate change and ensure the protection of crops, not only against hail but also against spring frosts, for example. The availability of water is becoming an essential factor” states Peyres. Indeed, in order to prepare for the future with more sustainable growing techniques, Blue Whale is leading the ambitious (Ré)Génération Fruit research project. For Blue Whale, implementing sustainable management also means ensuring economic feasibility for its farmers. This has led the company to restructure its organic range, adjusting its offer to actual demand, especially in France.

“We believe in a profitable organic market for our producers, but after some excessive developments, a restructuring was required,” states Peyres.

“In order for the organic market to grow again, organic apple production will be lower in France, but with better quality and better adapted varieties,” he predicts. 

Extensive portfolio of premium fruits Alongside its wide range of apples, Blue Whale is adding other fruits to its catalogue. Premium pears, with varieties offering a great taste profile such as Angys, QTee and Fred; green and yellow kiwis, with a new fruit plant devoted to kiwis opened this season; plums especially the Metis variety; and Apirena seedless table grapes, adapted to the tastes of current consumers; are now the focus of its diversification strategy. This new fruit segment already provides a turnover of over 40 million Euros for Blue Whale and is expected to grow over the next 5 years, alongside its main activity with apples.

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