"Our great strengths lie in our beliefs, in particular the quality requirement"
For more than 30 years, Les vergers Boiron have woven their web internationally. To the point that today, the specialist in fruit and vegetable purees makes 80% of its turnover abroad. A wonderful feat for this family business which remains committed to its base in Valence.
How did Les vergers Boiron start to conquer the international market?
It happened somewhat by chance, in the early 1980s. A Japanese importer, who had heard of our products through chefs, contacted us to order a few hundred kilos of fruit purees. Then, there were French chefs who had left the country and took us with them in their luggage. They had used our products for a long time and wanted to continue to use them in their recipes. So we started to explore the world according to their wanderings.
In the course of the 1990s, the company decided to gear up its international development through dedicated structures.
Indeed. It was felt that there was a real potential for our products abroad. An export department was rapidly set up. It has gradually expanded and was reorganised in 2009. It is a team of 15 people, of whom 5 are based in Asia and 2 in the United States. We have also recruited a recognised baker, Gaël Etrillard, who was the pastry chef for the prestigious Raffles Hotel in Singapore. He is the Ambassador of our purées and coulis in Asia, which he showcases to groups of professionals or students, or during bespoke board meetings for key accounts. In Asia, as on other continents, we also appeal to cooks, pastry, and mixologists for similar types of presentations or to highlight the scope of our ranges and all the benefits of our products at fairs or other trade events. This proximity with leaders is important to us. We are really there to facilitate their life and encourage their creativity by providing them with quality ingredients.
The international teams track the evolution of health standards in different countries.
Our international teams do a big monitoring job because we are today present across 80 countries! But our importers are also valuable allies in this mission, which is not always very simple. Because even if we ensure that all fruit and vegetables that we process are treated as less as possible, some countries may have special requirements. In these cases, we set up specific supply chains to meet their specifications. We also ensure that our packaging labelling complies with local criteria. To manage this increasing complexity, the whole company is therefore involved: sales people, of course, marketing or purchasing, as we have seen, and for the past two years we have implemented a "regulatory and food safety" department that allows us to confidently approach these topics.
Have you ever considered relocating your factory? Would you not make substantial savings?
Absolutely never! If we select the best fruit and vegetables for our supplies worldwide, our expertise mainly depends on our staff. In our plant in Valence, where all our products are manufactured, we have seven quality approval officers who control and categorise the consignments of raw materials we receive so that, once assembled, our purees offer constant organoleptic quality. It takes years to train a good authorisation officer, and only in contact with other quality approval officers. Similarly, on the production lines, there is know-how, which is very difficult, if not impossible to relocate.
Today Les vergers Boiron are the number one in the world of frozen fruit and vegetable purees and coulis: what are the keys to this success?
I could talk at length about our ranges, whose diversity and breadth are much greater than those of our competitors, because that's also an important factor of course. But I think that our great strengths lie in our beliefs, in particular the quality requirement". Our "zero compromise - 100% taste" slogan is the exact expression of our approach. An example? We have occasionally run out of a key product because in a certain year, the quality of the fruit did not seem satisfactory. We are a family business, which bears the name of its founder and its current managing director. This necessarily creates a very high requirement. And it also means that we are in a logic of long-term development, sustainability, and absolutely not in a mercantile opportunistic approach. This is what perhaps makes our strength and surely explains our position as world number one.