13 February 2024

Mohmed Elsarky, Unifrutti CEO on Verfrut:
"Acquisition allows us to expand our global reach in Asia, particularly China"

Read the full article on FreshPlaza: Acquisition allows us to expand our global reach in Asia, particularly China


Consumers in Asia, the US and Europe will benefit from Unifrutti’s recent acquisition of Verfrut with a focus on bringing a range of fruit to these markets. Mohmed Elsarky, Unifrutti CEO says, “The acquisition aligns with our strategic goal of expanding our global reach in Asia, particularly China. Being a leader in table grapes and cherries enhances our ability to serve these markets more effectively.”

“We are also looking to expand our existing positioning in Japan with new volumes from Verfrut, including grapes from Peru. In addition to Asia, Verfrut’s established commercial network and distribution channels in other key markets like the US will also complement Unifrutti’s existing operations. The combined offering of Unifrutti and Verfrut will enable us to better provide customers with high-quality produce nearly year-round, thus strengthening our presence in these rapidly growing markets,” says Elsarky.

Verfrut’s volumes are poised to grow even more with new orchards planted over the past few years coming into full production from 2025. Unifrutti is looking to invest even more in the expansion of these farms and operations in both Peru and Chile says Elsarky. “Verfrut’s upcoming increase in production is an exciting development, and will further strengthening our position in grapes, cherries, kiwis, apples, and other fruits. Unifrutti is fully committed to supporting this growth and we are also considering additional investments to expand and enhance further these operations in both Peru and Chile. This expansion is not just about increasing volume; it’s about enhancing the quality and diversity of our produce to better meet global demand.”

The acquisition comes during a period where there are climate-related risks in Peru and South America that need careful managing. “We are aware of the different challenges in Peru, including climate-related issues like El Niño. Our approach includes robust risk management strategies, such as diversifying our production locations and investing in resilient agricultural practices. Additionally, we are exploring the introduction of new varieties and innovative agricultural technologies to mitigate these risks and ensure the sustainability and stability of our operations,” explains Elsarky.

Elsarky says as part of their ongoing strategy to meet global demand for high-quality fruits, “Unifrutti remains open to external growth. These initiatives will be carefully evaluated to ensure they align with our long-term goals and commitment to sustainable practices. Future acquisitions will be considered if they complement our existing operations and contribute to our vision. In terms of value chain integration, we are open to exploring partnerships in retail and wholesale sectors to strengthen our market presence and offer better services to our customers.”

Expanding growth in both China, US and European markets
Responding to the latest industry trends Elsarky says they are observing a trend towards more sustainable and traceable produce in consumer markets. “Unifrutti is positioning itself to meet these demands by investing in sustainable farming practices and further improving our supply chain. We are also seeing a growing preference for a wider variety of fruits, and our expanded portfolio positions us well to cater to these evolving consumer tastes. Unifrutti will also aim to bolster growth in the US and China together with historically important market as Europe, for a variety of produce, both existing and new in our portfolio, and the acquisition of Verfrut represents a significant first step in this direction. Finally, we recognize as a key trend the development of the agri-tech landscape, which we expect will increasingly play a fundamental role in combining greater efficiency to sustainability.”

Future with agri tech
He believes from precision agriculture to artificial intelligence, from drones to smart monitoring systems and green energy, Unifrutti is committed to, “continuing to innovate in our fields and in collaboration with our partners, ensuring not only that current market needs are met, but that industry will keep developing and improving in a sustainable way in the years to come. We believe that the future of agriculture is increasingly tech-driven. Unifrutti is embracing this by investing in agri-tech and other technologies for optimizing production, harvesting, and shipping. These technologies are pivotal in reducing waste, optimizing resource use, and ensuring the highest quality of produce. But beyond efficiency, these technological advancements allow us to contribute positively to the environment. By utilizing data-driven farming techniques, we can better manage water usage, minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and reduce our overall carbon footprint. In essence, this looking forward approach aligns perfectly with our commitment to sustainability. It is about doing more with less and doing it responsibly,” emphasises Elsarky.

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