By: Adriana Michael
Dutch citizen Renno van Dijk discovered cranberries and developed a fascination for the unique red fruit and other berries, while studying in the U.S. He learned that, besides providing a great touch to the traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner at U.S. and Canadian homes, cranberries are among the few native North American super fruits. Packed with nutrients and health benefits, known by the first inhabitants of the Northern prairies and shared later with the first European settlers, cranberries remained popular mainly in North America.
Renno shared his interest for organic and vegetarian food with his friend Bert Jan Bakker, an expert in telecommunications and systems engineering. The two friends and their wives embarked in a venture to import the cranberry to Europe twelve years ago under the Berrico brand. With the first containers of fresh cranberries they realised the task was more difficult than anticipated. Soon they learned that cranberries frozen, dried or in juice was a better way to run the business.
On the other side of the Atlantic, two other entrepreneurs from Quebec, cranberry processing pioneers Mario Carrier and Martin Le Moine had been developing the most state- of the-art-technology to cultivate, harvest, freeze, dry and preserve cranberries keeping their whole nutrition and without the need of artificial preservatives. They have been running Fruit d’Or successfully since their joint venture started back in 1999 and are known as the number one supplier of organic cranberries in North America.
“We developed a great relationship from the moment we met,” said Renno. “With a strong and reliable partnership and great supply, we found it possible to start opening doors and showing food manufacturers in Europe the possibilities of the little cranberry.”
Today Berrico offers a the complete line of cranberry and also blueberry products supplied by Fruit d’Or including a full range of dried and sweetened products organic and natural, IQF fruit, powder and concentrates. “We sell now in 25 countries, France being one of our fastest growing markets,” said Renno. With the recession the UK shrunk a little, but Germany has remained solid as well as Scandinavia. As consumers demand more superfruits and discover the health benefits of other berries, Berrico has expanded its portfolio with other exotic additions like goji berries, mulberries and goldenberries. But cranberries and blueberries remain the bulk of their operation.
Cranberries are now more known outside North America and some varieties are even grown in some parts of Europe, Chile and other places. But the large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is the one Fruit d’Or supplies Berrico and Renno said: “There is more research available that better explains the properties of cranberries; this generates more interest from food manufacturers. Prices for cranberries fluctuate a little, but are relatively stable compared to other foodstuffs.”
Fruit d’Or and Berrico are seen at all major food fairs in Europe, Canada and the USA. Fruit d’Or also attends fairs in other regions. What makes the cranberries supplied by Fruit d’Or special compared to other companies? “Great texture and full taste and flavour,” said Marie-Michele Lemoine, international sales manager at Fruit d’Or. “The fruit is first frozen and dried slowly and also as required by the customers.”