Surexport expands berry production in Northern Europe with Jong Fruit majority share

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Global AgInvesting | 9 January 2024

Surexport expands berry production in Northern Europe with Jong Fruit majority share
 
Consumer demand for fresh berries is strong due to the combination of their health benefits, appealing taste, versatility, and their alignment with current dietary and culinary trends. And as consumers increasingly seek both convenience and nutrition in their food choices, fresh berries continue to be a popular and highly sought-after option across global markets. 
 
Reflecting this potential, between 2022-2027, Technavio forecasts that the global fresh berry market will maintain a CAGR of 5.69 percent and increase in value by US$10.2 billion while the degree of fragmentation in the industry decreases over that time period.
 
Continuing to gain a place of prominence in the segment is Surexport, a leading European berry producer and supplier that announced its acquisition of a majority stake in Dutch strawberry producer Jong Fruit. 
 
 It was back at the very beginning of 2021 that private equity investor Alantra announced it had acquired a majority stake in Surexport through its Alantra Private Equity III fund that closed at EUR450 million (US$547 million) in 2018.
 
Founded in 1994 in Huelva, Spain, Surexport is a leading fully-integrated producer of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries with land in Spain, Morocco, Portugal, and Kenya that has generated sales exceeding €235 million (US$257 million) over its 2022-2023 campaign. With the support of Alantra, the company is undertaking an ambitious buy-and-build strategy and organic growth plan that is leading to expectations of total revenue of €340 million (US$371.8 million)by the end of its 2023/2024 campaign. 
 
As part of this growth strategy, the company announced its successful completion of three highly strategic acquisitions in October 2023: Portuguese raspberry producer Solana; Moroccan blueberry producer AG Group; and Spanish producer of organic berries Flor De Doñana.
 
These three deals, which were supported by Alantra Private Equity and co-investors Keyhaven Capital and Oquendo Capital, will act to further consolidate Surexport’s leadership position in what is a highly fragmented industry by broadening its production capabilities in core geographies, expanding its product offerings in a complementary way, and boosting its year-round availability of products to Europe’s retailers.
 
And helping to execute this goal in Northern Europe is Surexport’s latest acquisition of a majority stake in Jong Fruit.
 
“This acquisition fits perfectly within our growth strategy and allows us to strengthen our presence in Northwest Europe,” said Andrés Morales, CEO, Surexport. “We are delighted to welcome aboard the Jong Fruit team and work together towards becoming the undisputed leading European berry producer.”
 
In business for 60 years, the company operates 24 hectares of production space under glass specializing in the year-round cultivation of strawberries, including the exclusive Inspire variety already being produced by Surexport in Spain. 
 
“For a long time I have believed in joining forces in an international soft fruit platform,” said Rob van der Wouw, who together with his brother Arian de Jong are founding shareholders and managers of Jong Fruit, and who will continue to lead the business alongside Surexport.
 
“During my first meeting with Surexport I immediately saw the many opportunities and synergies that were possible for both parties. Our shared passion for the Inspire variety confirmed my conviction. It was therefore not a difficult decision for me to sell my shares to Surexport and remain active within the team.”
 
Van der Wouw continued, “Together with Surexport, I am determined to realize our plans in the expectation that this will take Jong Fruit and Surexport to a higher level than previously thought possible.”
 
“I look forward to proudly leading the platform for Surexport in Northwest Europe in the role of managing director and diligently building on this strategic combination,” added Arian de Jong. 
 
“With this acquisition, Surexport will expand and continue diversifying its geographical production capacity into Northwest Europe, resulting in improved year-round supply of berries to main European retailers.”
 
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