Asia Fruit Awards
ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA and Asiafruit Magazine have joined forces to launch the annual Asia Fruit Awards, a series of prestigious accolades recognising outstanding achievement in Asia’s fresh fruit and vegetable business.
The winners were announced during Asiafruit Congress.
- MARKETING CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR: JOY WING MAU
- IMPORTER OF THE YEAR: SURI AGRO FRESH
- PRODUCE RETAILER OF THE YEAR: NTUC FAIRPRICE
- IMPACT AWARD: COSTA JV
2021- Marketing Campaign of the Year: JOY WING MAU
Joy Wing Mau won the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award for its Joyvio campaign as the official fruit supplier to the China National Women’s Volleyball Team. The China Women’s Volleyball Team are national icons for generations across China, and the Joyvio partnership ran a series of promotional activities throughout the team’s journey to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Announcing the winner, Asiafruit editor John Hey said the campaign was recognised for the creative ways in which it drew similarities between Joyvio’s premium fruit brands and the characteristics of the national volleyball team. This included the production of a series of short films shared on social media platforms.
The campaign was also singled out for its well-targeted approach. Partnering with this iconic national women’s team ensured the campaign appealed to female consumers, who represent the primary fruit purchasers in China.
Joy Wing Mau secured enormous brand profile for Joyvio through the partnership, propelled by the team’s celebrity status. Digital content, which is signposted with the campaign’s dedicated hashtag, has been viewed well over 100m times on social media platforms.
Receiving the award, Echo Yuan, Joy Wing Mau’s product director of the strategic brand and category business department, said: “This award is not only a recognition of our efforts with Joyvio, but also an acknowledgement for building a domestic Chinese fruit brand.”
2020- Marketing Campaign of the Year: T&G GLOBAL
T&G Global, the New Zealand-headquartered global fresh produce marketer, won the Marketing Campaign of the Year. The powerhouse apple grower-marketer was recognised for its pan-Asia efforts to promote and position Envy and Jazz apples as premium brands.
Introducing the winner, ASIAFRUIT MAGAZINE editor John Hey said the award recognised T&G Global’s efforts over a number of years, and across a number of markets in Asia. T&G has invested heavily in developing its in-market presence, people and resources, with offices in Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. This network and infrastructure have enabled the company to develop direct relationships with trade and consumers across these markets, he noted.In Thailand, T&G has made a foray into supermarket retail channels with Jazz and Envy and built awareness via social media. In Vietnam, Envy dominates sales, but T&G has also developed demand for Jazz as a uniquely tangy-sweet refreshing apple. The group has also marketed smaller-sized pre-packed Jazz apples in Asia as a healthy snack targeted at the whole family.
Japan is a tough market to crack for imported apples, but T&G Global has invested to position Jazz as a premium imported apple. The programme includes PR, inspirational recipes from key opinion leaders, and in-store activations to build theatre and create an ‘orchard experience’.
Envy is the focal point of T&G’s campaign in China, where the company effectively pivoted its promotions to O2O and digital platforms after Covid-19 restricted in-store activations. Tmall live samplings with Chinese actress Liu Tao further strengthened the position of Envy as the ultimate premium apple that engages all five senses.
T&G Global’s head of global marketing, Rebecca Chapman, accepted the award.
“Asia is a key region for T&G Global and is pivotal for the success of our flagship Jazz and Envy apples. This award reflects the creative marketing efforts from our Asia team and our passion to bring our growers’ great tasting, high-quality apples to consumers all over the world,” said Chapman.
“It’s a real honour for T&G Global to be recognised with this award, and it will give our global teams the energy to continue to challenge boundaries and connect with consumers in even more innovative ways.”
2019- Marketing Campaign of the Year: ROCKIT GLOBAL
Rockit Global, the company behind miniature Rockit apples marketed in convenient recyclable tube packaging, scooped the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award for its new brand campaign in China
China has grown rapidly to account for 50 per cent of Rockit’s global sales, and the company launched a consumer-centric marketing campaign in 2019 focusing on the functionality and benefits of Rockit apples.
The campaign aimed to appeal directly to Rockit’s target demographics of children (and their carers) as well as busy young professionals. Rockit apples were positioned as a healthy and convenient snack alternative for parents and grandparents collecting children from school, and for young professionals seeking healthy options for snacking on throughout their working day.
With a tagline in Mandarin ‘This little goodness you can hold’, Rockit undertook a number of promotional activities, including a campaign for Children’s Day on 1 June. Rockit also cooperated with leading Chinese fruit store chain Pagoda to launch Rockit apple-themed Pagoda stores to maximise profile and promotion.
E-commerce has been a key sales channel for Rockit in China, and the company made breakthroughs on this front, joining the New Zealand Food Basket alliance, which launched its first New Zealand Flagship store on Tmall Fresh, in addition to opening a flagship store on JD.com.
Introducing the winner, ASIAFRUIT editor John Hey said the dynamic campaign helped to position Rockit apples as “an aspirational lifestyle brand”.
Rockit Global’s China market manager, Eric Dai, said the company was delighted to receive the ASIA FRUIT AWARD for Marketing Campaign of the Year.
“Ensuring your brand stands out in a crowded market such as China is always a challenge,” said Dai. “This award is fantastic recognition of a brand message that was tailored to engage and resonate with Chinese consumers and was well executed across a range of channels.”
2018 - Marketing Campaign of the Year: CHILEAN CHERRY COMMITTEE / ASOEX
The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) and its Chilean Cherry Committee won the Marketing Campaign of the Year for their high-profile campaign to promote Chilean cherries in China during 2017/18.
The US$5m campaign targeted 63 cities across China, seeking to encourage consumption of cherries at any time and for any occasion, with family, friends or alone, while highlighting the fruit’s health attributes. Targeting a range of channels, the campaign succeeded in achieving significant profile at retail and consumer levels, and contributed to a record result for Chilean cherry exports to China in 2017/18, which more than doubled to account for over 85 per cent (160,146 tonnes) of total exports.
Introducing the winner, ASIAFRUIT editor John Hey recognised the collaborative effort behind the campaign, with the industry succeeding in securing the financial backing of virtually all Chilean grower-packer-marketers. The campaign followed on from a similar-budget promotion in 2016/17, but it was expanded and extended to include more cities in 2017/18.
“We are honoured to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the efforts and commitment of growers and exporters in Chile in facilitating the demand for our cherry exports to China and contributing through this campaign to strengthening our country’s image in Asia,” said Ronald Bown, chairman of the board of ASOEX.
“We would also like to thank the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and ProChile, as well as our growers and exporters, members of the Cherry Committee, our marketing team at ASOEX and advertising agencies in China, for their important support and contribution in making this project a success.”
2017 - Marketing Campaign of the Year: BELGIAN FRUIT VALLEY – TRUVAL PEARS
Belgian Fruit Valley (BFV) won the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award for its pioneering work to develop the market for Truval-branded Conference pears across Asia. Introducing the winner, ASIAFRUIT editor John Hey said the award recognised BFV’s efforts not only over the past year, but also over the past decade, to build a market for Conference pears in Asia.
The Belgian cooperative has led the way in opening up new markets – in particular China and India, he noted. ‘Western’ pears represent a relatively new product to many consumers in Asia, who are used to local Asian varieties with very different characteristics. Together with its import and retail partners, BFV has run a highly structured and consistent campaign in China to educate trade and consumers about Conference pears, demonstrating how best to handle and enjoy the fruit.
The company has also run similar activities across a number of other Asian markets. In turn, BFV has helped to pave the way for other pear exporting companies and countries to conduct their own campaigns to promote western pears.
Commercial director of Belgian Fruit Valley Marc Evrard, who has led the Truval Pears campaign, accepted the award.“It’s a great honour for BFV to be awarded this accolade as a recognition of the faith, persistence, commitment and teamwork for all involved from the Belgian side and especially our Chinese partners, without whom introducing a new product in a new market would not have been possible,” said Evrard. “It is fitting that we can today receive this award from an organisation that helped create the meeting ground to bring us and our partners together.”
2016 - Marketing Campaign of the Year: MR CHENG, FRUITDAY (CHINA)
Fruitday won the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award for ‘Mr Cheng’, its campaign to launch a Chinese orange brand with guaranteed sweetness. While Fruitday has built its business as an online retailer of premium imported fruits, Mr Cheng saw the company venture into new territory with a move to develop a homegrown citrus brand. Fruitday selected bingtang oranges grown in Yunnan province, investing RMB20m (US$3m) upstream into a joint venture packing plant in the region. The facility was fitted out with infrared Brix-sorting technology from Compac in order to achieve consistent quality standards and guaranteed sweetness in the fruit. The orange brand was personified as Mr Cheng, a ‘romantic gentlemen’, in a move designed to create easier interaction with consumers and appeal to female online shoppers in particular.
After a ‘beta test’ in which it sent the fruit to numerous Chinese celebrities and well-known entrepreneurs, Fruitday conducted another round of promotions. In addition to extensive marketing activities on its e-tail platforms, Fruitday worked with China’s leading online match-making site Jiayuan.com, taxi service mobile app Didi, and the largest budget hotel chain Home Inn to make specially packaged and branded Mr Cheng products available in vehicles and hotels.
The idea for Mr Cheng came from the Fruitday team as we were seeking to learn from examples of fruit standardisation and Brix selection we had seen in other parts of the world, and to innovate in China’s fast-developing e-commerce market.”
Introducing the winner, Asiafruit Magazine editor John Hey said Fruitday’s Mr Cheng campaign broke new ground for marketing and branding of Chinese-grown fruit. “Fruitday has not just marketed the fruit on its consistent sweetness, it has given the product a personality, making it easy to create a dialogue with consumers,” he noted. “Fruitday is really happy to win the ASIA FRUIT AWARD,” said the company’s co-founder Loren Zhao. “The Mr Cheng campaign was an important supply chain exploration for Fruitday.
2015 - Marketing Campaign of the Year: Now! In Season (Australia)
The Marketing Campaign of the Year Award was presented to ‘Now! In Season’, a multi-industry, multi-market promotion for Australian fruits.
The campaign, launched in April by the Victorian State Government in collaboration with Austrade and Horticulture Innovation Australia, takes a whole-of-industry approach to promoting Australian fruits across Asian markets.
Through a mix of in-store tastings, point-of-sale materials and networking events, the campaign promotes seasonal Australian produce. Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines were the initial focus for the promotion, which launched with stonefruit, table grapes and apples and pears, with the support of the respective peak industry bodies.
Citrus has since been added, with cherries to follow, while the campaign has been rolled out to more markets, including China and Japan.
"The Victorian Government, in collaboration with peak industry bodies, Horticulture Innovation Australia and Austrade, is extremely pleased with the success of the Now! In Season programme,” said Brendan Larkin, ASEAN market manager at the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
2014 - Marketing Campaign of the Year: Northwest Cherry Growers (US) / Fruitday (China) / TMall (China)
The Marketing Campaign of the Year Award was won jointly by US marketing body Northwest Cherry Growers, Chinese fruit e-tailer Fruitday and e-commerce giant TMall for their promotion to market cherries online in June/July 2013.
Through a system of pre-orders via TMall’s B2C online platform, Northwest cherries were packed and delivered from orchard to consumer within 48 to 72 hours. Against the backdrop of one of the most challenging Northwest cherry growing seasons in a decade, the promotion managed to sell in three phases around 200 tonnes of cherries with a range of online competitions and promotions that hugely lifted the profile of the product.
The campaign was singled out as a watershed in underlining the potential of e-commerce as a direct-to-consumer sales channel for fresh fruit marketers in China.
It was also commended for its highly targeted approach, directly accessing younger consumers with the means and motivation to buy a high-value imported fruit like cherries.
Keith Hu, director of international operations for Northwest Cherry Growers, said he was very humbled to receive the award. “At Northwest Cherry Growers, we’re always looking for new ways to expand both product and brand awareness,” he said. “It’s fortunate that we’re working with two excellent partners.”
2013 - Marketing Campaign of the Year: Zespri (Asia)
Kiwifruit marketer Zespri won the Marketing Campaign of the Year Award in recognition of the quality of its marketing programmes throughout Asia.
Zespri was chosen for its success in building its brand profile and loyalty among customers and consumers throughout Asia. With core messages focused on the quality, taste and nutritional benefits of its kiwifruit, the company was recognised for adapting those messages to diverse markets and conveying them effectively to consumers via a range of media in a fun way. Its use of social media and school education programmes to engage consumers in China was also singled out as an example of its innovative activities.
Accepting the award, Zespri’s president of global sales and marketing Daniel Mathieson said the company was “delighted and honoured” to receive the accolade, and he praised Zespri’s Asia-based marketing teams on their work in cementing the Zespri brand in Asia.
Asia is a demanding place to get your product recognised and build consumer loyalty, particularly when you’re operating in a hugely competitive and crowded fresh produce space,” said Mathieson.
2021 - Importer of the Year: SURI AGRO FRESH
The Importer of the Year Award went to leading Indian fruit distributor Suri Agro Fresh. The Delhi-headquartered company was recognised for the advances it has made in its import business over the past several years.
Introducing the winner, Hey said Suri Agro Fresh had invested heavily in its distribution infrastructure, including cold storage and handling facilities. Its role as a national distributor for leading global kiwifruit marketer Zespri has brought further impetus to its import business, and it has also partnered with Rockit Global to launch the branded miniature apple in the Indian market.
While India has faced enormous challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year, Suri Agro Fresh has navigated the crisis well, Hey said, reflecting the company’s diverse distribution channels and product range.
Suri Agro Fresh was also recognised for its work in launching market development and marketing initiatives. Its ‘unorganised retail development programme’ provides cold chain deliveries and marketing support to India’s traditional retail trade and one-shop owners, encouraging these retailers to sell more high-value branded fruits.
The company has also re-launched its flagship Enjoy brand as a consumer-facing healthy lifestyle brand to capitalise on growing health trends among Indian consumers.
Chief operating officer of Suri Agro Fresh, Manav Suri, said the company was “delighted” to receive the Importer of the Year Award.
“Suri Agro Fresh is known for bringing innovation to the industry. We believe resolve, resilience and reform are the ways to survive in the post-Covid era,” he said. “This award is a prestigious honour, and the biggest honour goes to the team who have supported our company attain its success.”
2020 - Importer of the Year: EURO-ATLANTIC
The Importer of the Year Award went to leading Malaysian importer-distributor of speciality fruit and vegetables, Euro-Atlantic.
Set up in 1992 with a goal to expand the range of fruit and vegetables for Malaysian consumers beyond tropical produce, the company was recognised for its pioneering efforts to introduce and develop new products and sources. Euro-Atlantic has played a key role in developing the market for berries, avocados and mushrooms in Malaysia among other categories, Hey noted.
With a strong customer base in food service and hospitality, and a significant percentage of its imports air-flown, Euro-Atlantic has faced a challenging 2020 owing to the impacts of Covid-19. But the company was also recognised for the way it has risen to the challenge, selling more produce online and marketing via social media with online cooking demonstrations as well as making moves towards ‘contactless’ sampling.
Euro-Atlantic also continues to invest in its infrastructure, facilities and staff training to ensure proper handling of its speciality products. Work is now under way on its new headquarters and warehouse operation and the company recently acquired a new packing facility and warehouse.
Managing director of Euro-Atlantic, Ebby Loo, accepted the award. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to ASIAFRUIT MAGAZINE and ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA for this outstanding award,” she said. “Greater things are yet to come as we embark on another fruitful year ahead.”
2019 - Importer of the Year: LARIS MANIS UTAMA
Indonesian company Laris Manis Utama (LMU) won the ASIA FRUIT AWARD for Importer of the Year.
Established 23 years ago, the company was recognised for its market-led approach to developing Indonesia’s fresh fruit import business, which has been driven by significant investment.
LMU has invested heavily in its logistics and cold chain infrastructure, with state-of the-art distribution facilities in Jakarta and Surabaya. It has also developed its network of wholesale branches across Indonesia, helping to boost access to high-quality imported and domestically-grown fruits for consumers across the archipelago, said Hey.
The company was also recognised for its proactive and structured approach to marketing imported fruits. Besides running retail campaigns for leading brands of imported fruits, the company recently launched its own brand My Fruit, which it is promoting in traditional retail channels, brick-and-mortar stores, online and on trucks.
LMU has also begun selling fresh fruit online with various e-commerce partners, as well as launching its own fruit retail shops under the Frestive banner.
“We are extremely delighted and honoured to receive the Importer of the Year Award from such prestigious organisations,” said LMU vice-director Hendry Sim on accepting the award. “This award is a confirmation to my team back in 26 cities across Indonesia that our dedication, innovation and hard work over many years in fresh produce has brought industry recognition.”
2018 - Importer of the Year: IG INTERNATIONAL
India’s IG International scooped the ASIA FRUIT AWARD for Importer of the Year. Since establishing its import business in 1999, IG has become one of India’s premier fresh fruit importers, handling 50-plus varieties of fruit from more than 20 countries.
IG has invested heavily in cold chain infrastructure to support the growth of fresh fruit imports, establishing a national network of facilities and trucks. Such infrastructure has helped the company to deliver fruit with optimum quality and taste to Indian consumers while also giving global suppliers more confidence to ship large volumes to India, Hey noted.
IG was also recognised for its pioneering role in expanding the range of imported fruits available to Indian consumers. Apples dominate India’s fruit import market, and IG has worked with leading global suppliers to introduce a number of premium brands. The company has also helped to grow the market for a range of other fruit categories such as pears, kiwifruit, citrus and, more recently, berries and avocados. IG has taken a proactive approach to promoting imported fruits to Indian consumers, conducting extensive tastings, deploying high-profile brand ambassadors and introducing new packaging.
Accepting the Importer of the Year Award, IG International director Tarun Arora said he was “extremely honoured and humbled”.
“We are earnestly grateful for this recognition we have received today,” said Arora. “It is testimony to the tireless efforts my organisation has, over several decades, put into matching up to the highest standards expected from a premier fruit importing company.”
2017 - Importer of the Year: FRESHMART SINGAPORE
Family-run business Freshmart Singapore scooped the ASIA FRUIT AWARD for Importer of the Year. Established in 1980, the Singapore-based fresh produce importer and distributor supplies over 100 supermarkets island-wide as well as several food service and wholesale customers.
Freshmart was recognised for the strength of its team and operations, its focus on building supplier and customer relationships, and its leading role in developing several categories in Singapore’s fruit import market. Hey singled out the company’s work in growing the berry category, where it has been both aggressive and progressive in building a 52-week supply.
He also highlighted the company’s efforts to build demand for avocados and organic produce in Singapore, which have been underpinned by consistent trade and consumer education. Kevin Koh, director of Freshmart and son of the company’s co-founder Peter Koh, accepted the award.
"We are humbled to be receiving this award and recognition from the industry as it reaffirms our company's mission and values,” said Koh. “This would not have been possible without all the support our stakeholders have given us and the confidence our customers have placed in us."
2016 - Importer of the Year: JINWON TRADING (SOUTH KOREA)
South Korean company Jinwon Trading scooped the Importer of the Year Award in recognition of its leading position and pioneering role in the country’s fresh fruit import business.
As one of Korea’s oldest agricultural trading companies established in 1979, Jinwon has developed substantial warehouse and cold chain infrastructure from port to market as well as significant in-house expertise. The company sources a wide range of products from across the world, supplying multiple channels, including retail, wholesale, online sales and TV home shopping. It has forged strong relationships with leading global suppliers as well as major retailers.
“We’ve worked very hard with our team members not only this year, but for the past 40 years,” said Jinwon’s president Chang Hwa-Oh. “To receive this Award is a reward for our past efforts, an honour for the present and an encouragement to remain the best produce importer in the future.”
2015 - Importer of the Year: Golden Wing Mau (China)
Chinese group Golden Wing Mau (GWM) won the Importer of the Year Award for the impressive strides made by its import business.
Established in 1998, GWM has evolved rapidly from its origins as a small Shenzhen-based trading company to become an integrated fruit group with operations in production, packing, storage, import-export, wholesale and retail distribution. An early mover to develop its retail distribution business in China, predominantly with domestically-grown fruits, GWM’s network of supermarket customers has increasingly come into play for its imports in recent years. The company has also developed a strong network of wholesale market-based operations, as well as supplying emerging retail channels, such as e-commerce and specialist fruit shops. On the import procurement side, GWM has built its international sourcing relationships, aided by Capespan’s acquisition of a 25 per cent stake in the company in 2010.
The company has also become a leading distributor for Zespri kiwifruit in eastern and southern China as well as handling key national retail accounts.
“This is the best affirmation and encouragement GWM has received from the global fruit industry. I’d like to extend my gratitude to all our overseas partners, and thank them for their trust and support. I’d also like to express my sincere thanks to our GWM people for their persistence and hard work.” said president and CEO of GWM, Mau-Wah Liu.
2014 - Importer of the Year: Vachamon (Thailand)
Thai fruit importer Vachamon was selected as the Importer of the Year in recognition of its impressive growth in the table grape business in particular, and its trailblazing market development efforts. Introducing the winner, Asiafruit Magazine editor John Hey said Vachamon had played a pioneering role in building brands and growing the market for a range of products and suppliers in Thailand. The most notable example is its work on apple marketer Enza’s proprietary varieties Jazz and Envy. As well as developing the market for imported fruits within Thailand, Vachamon was recognised for its work in extending their reach into neighbouring markets in the Greater Mekong region, such as Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Vachamon’s managing director Wipavee Watcharakorn accepted the award. “We greatly appreciate receiving the Importer of the Year Award,” she said.
“Over the past 10 years, we’ve been working very hard to develop the business in Thailand and neighbouring countries.”
“We’d like to thank all our business partners who have supported us with the quality, the commitment to supplying us on a programmed basis and the investment of trust in us to develop the market, particularly under a sole agent model.”
2013 - Importer of the Year: Chop Tong Guan (Malaysia)
The Importer of the Year Award went to Malaysian company Chop Tong Guan.
The Penang-based importer was recognised for its success in expanding its operations and developing a distribution network across Peninsular Malaysia.
Introducing the winner, Asiafruit Magazine editor John Hey said Chop Tong Guan’s investments to maintain cold chain, food safety and traceability standards had helped it to become a key supplier to international retailers, and it had taken the initiative to understand and meet their requirements.
Chop Tong Guan’s director Koay Swee Aik accepted the award. “I am really delighted to receive this award as it reaffirms our business principles, our team’s dedication and our partners’ trust in us as a leading organisation,” he said.
“It further motivates us in our relentless efforts to upgrade our operations and strengthen our partnerships with suppliers and clientele.”
2021- Produce Retailer of the Year: NTUC FAIRPRICE
NTUC FairPrice took out the Produce Retailer of the Year Award, becoming the first retailer to win the award for the second time.
FairPrice, which won Produce Retailer of the Year in 2014, was again singled out for its impressive performance in Singapore’s highly contested grocery retail market.
“At a time when brick and mortar retailers are under pressure from online, FairPrice has done much innovative work to reinvent the large retail format,” said Hey. “It has been enhancing the shopping experience for consumers in larger stores. Fresh produce has played a key role here, with bigger sections offering wider range and premium quality as well as more tailored offerings for key demographics.”
The retailer has been leading the way with digital integration in-store. It has rolled out a new Scan & Go app, enabling shoppers to pay directly with their mobile phones.
FairPrice was also recognised for its effective response to the pandemic on several fronts. The retailer launched FairPrice on Wheels, using vans as mobile stores to reach elderly and more vulnerable consumers in residential areas.
Online grocery has significantly increased its market share in Singapore since the start of the pandemic, and FairPrice has ramped up its omnichannel capabilities to manage rapid fresh produce deliveries to consumers.
Andy Chang, director (fresh and frozen) for FairPrice Group’s Retail Business, said the retailer was honoured to become the first “two-time recipient” of the award.
“We extend our gratitude to our suppliers who have worked tirelessly with us to ensure we continue to delight and excite our customers, whose needs and lifestyles are continually evolving and changing,” said Chang.
“We endeavour to continue innovating and pushing boundaries, curating a diverse range of produce that offers the best quality and value to our customers.”
2020- Produce Retailer of the Year: JD FRESH
JD Fresh, the fresh food arm of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, won the Produce Retailer of the Year Award.
JD Fresh was recognised for the strides it’s made in fresh produce retail on a number of fronts. Winning government acclaim for its response to the Covid-19 crisis in China, the e-commerce giant significantly expanded its share of fresh produce sales during the pandemic as consumers switched to buying groceries online.
In addition to its gains in e-commerce, JD has continued to drive the digitisation of fresh food retail China. It has expanded its chain of high-tech supermarkets, 7Fresh, launching new stores and formats. JD also set up its first franchised community fruit stores under the Jingxuanhaoguo banner, a model under which it can apply its brand and its strength in procurement and high-tech solutions to existing mom and pop stores in neighbourhoods.
JD has undertaken a number of large-scale and innovative marketing campaigns for fresh fruit, including 618 and other high-profile shopping festivals. It became the first e-tailer in the world to forge a direct supply agreement with Zespri and delivered the first box of kiwifruit for the season with its autonomous robot.
On the production side, meanwhile, the company continued to invest in developing its JD Farms in key domestic and global growing regions with hi-tech packing and distribution infrastructure. It also forged ahead with its push to transform Chinese agriculture through smart technology, opening a new hi-tech greenhouse growing vegetables near Beijing with the help of Mitsubishi Chemical.
“This has been a landmark year for JD Fresh – it has emerged from the Covid crisis even stronger, with a bigger share of fresh produce sales,” said Hey. “JD has boosted its capabilities in fresh produce sourcing and distribution, and it’s made significant advances in digitising retail and production.”
Purchasing manager of JD Fresh Una Wang accepted the award. “The Produce Retailer of the Year Award is a fantastic recognition from the fresh produce industry of the efforts our team has made this year,” said Wang. “It inspires us to perform even better in the future, leading the e-commerce fresh produce business in China.”
2019 - Produce Retailer of the Year: YONGHUI SUPERSTORES
The Produce Retailer of the Year Award went to Yonghui Superstores, one of China’s fastest-growing grocery retailers.
In the face of fierce online competition, Yonghui was singled out as a brick-and-mortar retailer that has successfully adapted its operations to meet the changing needs of Chinese consumers with more premium fresh food offerings and the development of a ‘New Retail’ model.
Yonghui’s core business comprises hypermarket and supermarket formats under the YH Superstores and Bravo banners, as well as its smaller sized neighbourhood format YH Mini.
Through its separate supply chain and logistics service business, YH Yunchuang, the retailer has expanded rapidly with convenience store format YH Life (formerly YH Membership) while developing an experiential ‘New Retail’ supermarket format Super Species.
Fresh produce has long been one of Yonghui’s core strengths, underpinned by a focus on direct sourcing and a strong buying team, and underlined by the retailer’s private label for fresh food, Hey noted. More recently, fresh produce has become a key differentiator of Yonghui’s offering as the retailer works to cater to consumer demand for a wider range of products and services in China.
Yonghui stores stock an assortment of fresh produce, including a mix of private label and third-party brands. This includes an impressive depth and range of imported fruits.
Buying online and fresh convenience are two other headline consumer trends in China, and Yonghui has incorporated online delivery with packaged products, with many of its stores supporting delivery within one hour.
President of Yongui Superstores, Li Guo, said the group was greatly honoured to receive such a prestigious award.
“We have developed more than 700 large and medium-sized superstores and more than 500 neighbourhood stores across 23 provinces nationwide,” Li noted. “We’re actively and continuously strengthening our in-store services and home delivery business to create an online-to-offline, omnichannel retail model, and to bring a better consumer experience to customers.”
2018 - Produce Retailer of the Year: RANCH MARKET
The Produce Retailer of the Year Award went to Indonesia’s Ranch Market.
Formed in 1998, Ranch Market has become Indonesia’s leading supermarket targeting upper class consumers with high-quality imported as well as domestically-grown produce. The group operates more than 35 stores under two main banners – 15 branded as Ranch Market, which caters to top-end consumers, and 20 branded as Farmers Market, which have a slightly larger store area and feature more locally-grown products.
Ranch Market group was recognised for its clear-sighted customer focus and its impressive work in promoting fresh produce in the Indonesian market. “The group has raised the bar to a level that has forced others to follow suit, and Indonesia’s predominantly young, growing and aspirational middle class has responded positively to this offer,” said Hey.
Ranch Market’s CEO Meshvara Kanjaya accepted the Produce Retailer of the Year Award. “This award has very deep meaning to us,” she said. “It’s not only a recognition from such reputable organisations of our dedication to fresh, it’s also a motivation and a reminder to our team to keep doing their very best in fresh.”
“Our dedication and achievement in fresh produce is not solely the work of Ranch Market’s team – it’s a collaboration with suppliers, importers, growers, marketing and trade officers and also all our customers. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all.”
2017 - Produce Retailer of the Year: HEMA SUPERMARKET
The Produce Retailer of the Year Award was presented to Hema Supermarket for the success of its pioneering new online-to-offline (O2O) retail concept, which brings fresh produce to the fore. Having opened around a dozen stores in China in little more than a year, the Alibaba-backed retailer has broken ground with its innovative model. The in-store experience is critical for Hema Supermarket, with its expansive stores offering a wide range of premium fresh foods as well as cooking services where consumers can purchase foods and have meals prepared on site.
The stores also function as distribution centres processing online orders. Shoppers can order from Hema by mobile app at home, and have fresh produce and meal solutions delivered inside 30 minutes within a 3km radius of the store. There are no cash or credit card transactions – all payments at the store are made through Alibaba’s Alipay app, saving time and allowing Hema to collect valuable consumer data, which can be used to improve its service and boost customer loyalty.
“The integration of online and offline retail channels has been a dominant trend in China over the past year,” said Hey. “Hema Supermarket has demonstrated how the two can be bridged successfully in fresh food, while also setting a precedent and new expectations in terms of the consumer experience.” Hema Supermarket’s senior merchandising director Paul Sheh collected the award.
“I'm so proud to stand here to receive this great award on behalf of Hema Supermarket. As a new retail model, Hema is committed to delivering a faster and fresher shopping experience to our customers using a combination of technology and supply chain innovation,” he said. “To Hema and all of our team members, the ASIA FRUIT AWARD is a huge honour and encouragement.”
2016 - Produce Retailer of the Year: SAM’S CLUB CHINA (CHINA)
The Produce Retailer of the Year Award went to Sam’s Club China. The Walmart-owned membership-only warehouse club has carved out a niche in the Chinese retail market, servicing the needs of the country’s high-end consumers. While operating around a dozen stores in China, four of them are now ranked in the top ten of the 800-plus Sam’s Clubs worldwide. Fresh produce is playing a key role in Sam’s Club China’s gains, where the retailer has succeeded in targeting high-end customers with high-quality fresh food in new formats. “While Chinese consumers traditionally shop daily for fresh produce, and would not typically drive across a city to buy fresh foods in larger pack sizes, Sam’s Club has seen them doing just that,” said Hey.
Sam’s Club has introduced more western ways of merchandising to high-income shoppers, selling pre-packed produce in a market where consumers typically prefer to handpick their own, he noted. By focusing on a slightly narrower number of SKUs than a full-service retailer and developing supply partners that understand its business, Sam’s Club has also been able to pre-select premium products for its busy and wealthy consumer base.
“It’s most encouraging to see that the recognition we’re receiving for our fresh foods quality focus from our members is also being noticed by the industry,” said Sam’s Club China’s chief merchandising officer Neil Maffey. “The partnership with our suppliers is enabling us to deliver great produce in great packaging to our members and this is why we are seeing huge growth in this area of our business.”
The three winners of the ASIA FRUIT AWARDS were presented with their trophies and certificates by Wilfried Wollbold, commercial director of ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA organiser Global Produce Events, and Chris White, managing director of Market Intelligence, which publishes Asiafruit Magazine and organises the ASIAFRUIT CONGRESS.
The ASIA FRUIT AWARDS were presented before the Networking Lunch at ASIAFRUIT CONGRESSS, Asia’s premier fresh produce conference event held in Hong Kong. The conference sets the scene for ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA, which takes place on 7-9 September at AsiaWorld-Expo Center.
2015 - Produce Retailer of the Year: PAGODA (CHINA)
Chinese fruit retailer Pagoda Orchard Industry Development Co clinched the Produce Retailer of the Year Award. Having opened its first store in 2001, Pagoda has spread its wings in the past few years, and recently opened its 1,000th store in China.
The boutique retailer, which sells premium local and imported produce, was commended for its assiduous efforts to select the best product for its customers, underpinned by work with growers and supply partners and its direct import sourcing efforts. Pagoda was also singled out for the quality of its in-store execution, which is supported by strong management and staff training programmes. The retailer has worked successfully to educate consumers and introduce and develop a wider range of products, said Hey.
“Winning the Produce Retailer of the Year at the Asia Fruit Awards today is an honour for Pagoda,” said Huiyong Yu, chairman of Pagoda Orchard Industry Development Co. “It also shows that the fruit chain store business model in China is well regarded in the global industry.“I feel proud and happy and I want to thank everyone in the business for your help and encouragement, and for pushing us forward all these years. I hope that one day Pagoda stores can be seen all over the world.”
2014 - Produce Retailer of the Year: NTUC Fairprice (Singapore)
NTUC Fairprice clinched the Produce Retailer of the Year Award for its committed and progressive approach to fresh fruit and vegetable retailing. Fairprice was singled out for the way it had managed to look beyond price alone and focus on quality and service, while at the same time catering to every strata of Singaporean society with its stores and the affordability of its products. The retailer was commended for the philosophy and culture it had created within its organisation, and the education of its staff, particularly at store level. Fairprice also won praise for its open approach to working with suppliers, and for its focus on category development.
Deputy CEO of NTUC Fairprice Singapore Tng Ah Yiam was at the reception to accept the award. “NTUC Fairprice is honoured to receive the Produce Retailer of the Year Award,
which recognises our commitment and continuous efforts in providing quality produce at the best value to our customers,” said Tng. “This award is only possible through the dedication of our staff and partners, who work tirelessly to ensure we bring only the fresh fruit and vegetables, sourced from all around the world, to our customers”
2013 - Produce Retailer of the Year: Tops / Central Food Retail
Leading Thai food retailer Tops/Central Food Retail scooped the Produce Retailer of the Year Award in recognition of the outstanding fresh produce offering of its Central Food Hall and Tops Market formats in particular.
Hey said its high-end formats set new standards for sophistication and in-store theatre, adding that its product range was very impressive.
Tops/Central Food Retail’s empowerment of its produce managers and engagement of active in-store sellers were also cited as a key to its produce retailing excellence, while its strategic approach to marketing and brand-building was acknowledged.
President of Central Food Retail, Alistair Charles Taylor, was at the reception with the group’s produce executive team to accept the award. “It’s a great honour to win this prestigious award,” said Taylor. “Our achievements in fresh produce would not have been possible without all the efforts of our produce managers and the loyal support of our suppliers.”
2021 - IMPACT AWARD: COSTA JV
The Impact Award was presented to the Costa JV, a pioneering joint venture between Australia’s Costa Group and global berry marketer Driscoll’s to grow berries in China.
The partners established berry production in Yunnan Province in the southwest of China in 2015, and they have since expanded to four key growing locations across the province.
Announcing the winner, Hey said the Costa JV has brought world-leading berry growing technologies, varieties and farming expertise to China. These investments have helped to set benchmarks in terms of quality standards and price realisation for domestically grown berries in China. The partners’ Yunnan-grown berries consistently sell for significantly higher prices than imported berries in China, delivering a premium experience for Chinese consumers.
In addition to its market impact, the JV was recognised for its social and economic impact in terms of poverty alleviation in the communities where it operates. “The development of high-value berry production in Yunnan has established a lucrative industry that local communities can benefit from in terms of job creation and farmer incomes,” Hey noted.
Peter McPherson, Costa’s general manager of berry international, said it was “a great honour and privilege” to receive the Impact Award.
“Importantly, this award is a recognition of the work we have done in China to establish our berry footprint. Together with Driscoll’s’ brand and marketing expertise, we are now planning for future development and expansion to capitalise on our initial success.”
The four winners of the ASIA FRUIT AWARDS received their trophies and certificates from David Axiotis, Executive Director ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA organiser Global Produce Events, and Chris White, managing director of Fruitnet Media International, which publishes ASIAFRUIT MAGAZINE and organises ASIAFRUIT CONGRESS.
“We warmly congratulate our four fantastic ASIA FRUIT AWARD winners,” said White. “These awards set a standard for everyone in the business, and our winners are to be commended on their achievements.”
2020 - IMPACT AWARD: NOEL SHIELD
The Impact Award was presented to experienced Asia produce executive Noel Shield. Shield has spent most of his 30-year career in Asia working in the fresh produce business, both as a retailer and a supplier.
Shield was recognised for his role in helping to advance the fresh produce business in Asia, especially in terms of supermarket development and brand marketing.
While head of fresh produce at Hong Kong supermarket chain ParknShop in the late 1990s, Shield helped to pioneer the introduction of elements of the wet market into the supermarket store, Hey noted. The complex operation created a breakthrough for modern food retail in terms of capturing fresh food sales in Hong Kong. He also worked with Capespan’s Asia affiliate, Metspan Hong Kong, to implement ‘active selling’ of branded fresh produce in-store with teams of merchandisers.
In 2006, Shield relocated to Thailand where he was appointed president of produce for Tops/Central Food Retail. The group’s high-end Central Food Halls gained global recognition for their premium fresh food and produce departments. Shield was instrumental in setting up Central Food’s direct sourcing of imported fruits to streamline the supply chain and improve the retailer’s range and offering. He helped to drive the growth of high-value categories in Thai retail such as cherries and strawberries.
Outside retail, Shield worked with Metspan Hong Kong in the mid-2000s. He later helped to create JWM Asia in 2017, a joint venture between Capespan and Joy Wing Mau, enabling the Chinese group to develop its pan-Asia presence and expanding sales channels in Asia for Capespan suppliers. As CEO of JWM Asia Holdings, Shield led a campaign to launch Outspan Gems, Capespan’s soft citrus brand, in Asian markets in 2018. Most recently, as chief executive of JWM Asia Holdings, Shield restructured JWM Asia Japan (formerly Capespan Japan), paving the way for its sale to Farmind, where he remains an operational consultant to the Japanese company.
“It’s been my good fortune and privilege to have been actively involved in the fruit industry across Asia for the past 30 years,” Shield reflected. “During this time, I have seen many changes, especially in the development of the retail sector, the expansion of China into a fruit powerhouse, the growth of new products and the change in consumer demand to quality and taste.”
“To receive the Asia Fruit Impact Award is extremely humbling and it’s something that I share with the many talented people I have had the pleasure of working alongside during my time in Asia.”
2019 - IMPACT AWARD: YUPAA GROUP
Launched last year to recognise a person, company or organisation that has made a significant contribution to developing the fresh produce business in Asia, the 2019 ‘Impact’ Award was presented to Indian fresh produce importer-grower-distributor Yupaa Group.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Yupaa was co-founded by husband-and-wife team Ambrish and Yujita Karvat, with operations now managed by their son Parth.
The Mumbai-based company was singled out for the pioneering role it has played in developing fresh fruit imports to the Indian market, which opened up 20 years ago, as well as its work in nurturing high-end domestic production of berries.
“Yupaa was one of the first companies to bring imported fruits into India, and they have remained at the forefront in introducing new fruit varieties, origins and brands to the market,” said Hey. “Importantly, they had the foresight to work on developing models to import high-quality fresh fruit to the Indian market on a year-round basis. They have helped to build leading brands in the Indian market from New Zealand, the US, Chile and South Africa among other origins.”
Yupaa was also recognised for its pioneering efforts in India’s berry industry. Ambrish and Yujita Karvat set up Yupaa in 1989 with a modern strawberry-growing venture in Panchgani, Maharashtra – Parth Farms.
The venture cultivated US varieties that yield large-sized berries and marketed them under the Yupaa brand, one of the first branded fruits in India. Ambrish estimates some 3,000 acres (1,200ha) of strawberries are today grown in India based on this model. Around 20 years later, the family set up a raspberry-growing operation and this year they harvested their first blueberries for the Indian market.
The Indian market’s vast growth potential, and Yupaa’s solid foundation with a pan-India distribution network, drew global group Capespan to make a strategic investment in the company in 2016, acquiring a 35 per cent share in Yupaa Fresh.
“It means a lot to us for Yupaa’s ‘Impact’ to be being acknowledged and celebrated by such reputable and credible organisations, which have in-depth knowledge of our sector,” said co-founder Ambrish Karvat, who accepted the award together with wife Yujita and son Parth.
“This award is truly the result of the impact we could initiate and facilitate by opening India’s doors to various [supply] origins, their growers and exporters, and the impact we created for our customers and the consumers of India by bringing fruit from around the world to their plates and adding value in every way possible.”