Unifrutti Group closed on 2020 with pro forma revenues up by 5% (equal to 709 million US dollars) e 647 million tons of products sold. Increase by 18% also the gross profit margin and theEbitda touch the 12% of incidence on revenues: an unprecedented result, the achievement of which has several reasons. First, the cost containment plan adopted by the divisions of the group, therefore the best price mix on core products such as lemons and citrus fruits exported from South Africa, finally, the positive numbers achieved in the Japanese market, which today represents 28% of consolidated revenues. In summary, the group inaugurated 2021 with a total of assets equal to 981.8 million dollars, up by 10% compared to last year also thanks to the acquisition of Oranfrizer, Italian leader in the production of blood oranges (in the financial year 2020 it contributed with revenues equal to 63 million dollars ed Ebitda a 5.3 million).
Everyone’s crazy about oranges
The balance sheet is in order, therefore, but to drive the growth of Unifrutti Group there is also a spontaneous trend which the health situation has given a sudden acceleration: the increase in demand for products with healthy attributes. An example? Oranges, considered rich in vitamin C, experienced a sales boom in the months of the first lockdown, as did fresh groceries and unprocessed food. In short, confinement at home, with schools and canteens closed and the classic lunch break in the office now a distant memory, has led consumers to take better care of their diet, orienting themselves on choices considered healthier. And the trend is destined to last even after the health emergency is over, because the change in global lifestyles is now a fact from which it is difficult to go back.
The business model
Founded in Eritrea as a fruit import / export company in the 1940s by the Italian entrepreneur Guido De Nadai, Unifrutti Group today has 11 thousand employees spread over various locations around the world, a proforma turnover of 709 million dollars and a business model based on the vertical integration of the supply chain. Production, ripening, packaging and processing, but also logistics and distribution: the integration concerns the entire fresh fruit value chain, allowing the Group to directly supervise and control each step. In the portfolio there are 14 thousand hectares of land in different climatic areas of the world, an advantage that allows you to distribute fruit always in season by decreasing the geographical risk, 93 farms and operational and commercial locations in Italy, Japan, Chile, South Africa, Philippines, Argentina, Turkey, the Middle East, China and India.
In 2020, explains Marco Venturelli, chief executive officer of the Group, “the growth plan announced in 2019 was confirmed, with the contribution of the strategic partner Carlyle”. Last November, Unifrutti acquired 92% of Oranfrizer, thus bringing home a product recognized worldwide as Made in Italy, with great potential for international expansion. Then it was the turn of Dimifruit, a Spanish company that brought Unifrutti about 80 hectares of vegetables entirely produced in the Almeria greenhouses with the integrated pest management system, reaching a total of over 5 million kg distributed during the last season. Now the goal is to send the market a “clear message of dynamism and continuous growth of the production platforms in the various geographies. The achievement of US $ 83 million of Ebitda testifies to the consistency of the current strategic plan, which is rooted in a continuous buy & build action at a global level “.
Artificial intelligence applied to fruit
As already happens in other industrial sectors, also in the fresh fruit sector we look to artificial intelligence, also to expand the Group’s commitment in terms of sustainability. Under the guidance of a dedicated team, a partnership is being developed with a leading global player in the AI sector, to develop a project for the acquisition of skills and tools to deal with the effects of climate change and reduce the exposure to related risks.