After the successful launch of BANZZAI™ in British and German retailers that took place last year across Marks & Spencer and Edeka stores, this exciting citrus fruit of Japanese origin, a cross between different varieties of orange, satsuma, mandarin and grapefruit, is once again available in the market. In this second season, the response from the market is expected to be as fantastic as it was when BANZZAI™ was launched.
“The launch of BANZZAI™ last year in the UK and Germany was a resounding success,” says David Alba, director of Genesis Innovation, headquartered in Valencia and part of the AM FRESH Group. “It exceeded all expectations. Most stores sold all of the stock within days, after generating enormous interest. The retailers’ social media platforms saw exceptional activity with over 10,000 views. We installed specific BANZZAI™ in-store tasting areas in hundreds of stores in both countries and we made the variety known to thousands of consumers who were really surprised and amazed by the product,” he explains.
This year, the expansion of the third wave of the coronavirus in Europe is posing an obstacle to developing the promotional strategies in supermarkets that brought BANZZAI™ closer to consumers in 2020. “As a consequence of the global health situation, it has not been possible to launch in-store sampling with promoters who directly offer consumers the fruit to taste. However, in anticipation of the current context, our marketing team had been working hand in hand with the large chains to design visibility materials at the point of sale to highlight BANZZAI™ and showcase its attributes. As the main novelty this season, we are placing special emphasis on the prestigious “Superior Taste Award” that BANZZAI™ received last summer from the International Taste Institute from Brussels, being the first citrus fruit to receive it”.
The Superior Taste Award recognizes food and beverages of excellent taste and quality through sensory evaluations carried out by world-renowned international experts, and which is often regarded as the “Michelin Guide” of food products.
The BANZZAI™ harvest started at the beginning of the year, as soon as it was confirmed that the fruit had reached its optimum quality. Therefore, it has not suffered the impact of the severe weather that affected Spain in mid-January. “This year’s volumes will continue to be limited and very similar to last season, but over the next few years we expect significant growth. For the next campaign, January 2022, we hope to double product availability and, for the following one, we should quadruple current volumes,” David anticipates. In the current 2021 campaign, AM FRESH will continue to supply this citrus fruit to its customers in the UK and Germany and will expand in the medium term given the growing interest aroused by BANZZAI™ in European retail.
Creation of “The BANZZAI™ Club” to license growers and suppliers
The emergence of BANZZAI™ has generated maximum interest in multiple areas across the supply chain, including growers, suppliers and distributors, which has led the company to create The BANZZAI™ Club, with the ambition of expanding and internationalizing its project.
“The intention is to license those growers and suppliers who want to produce the variety and market the fruit under our brand, subject to quality specifications, brand design and packaging,” explains David Alba. “In response to the interest received, we open the door to growers and operators from both hemispheres, mainly from Spain and other countries in the Mediterranean area, as well as South Africa. To this extent, we will diversify the production areas, we will gain in quality and critical mass, we will provide greater continuity to the product by producing in counter-season, and we will reach new customers and markets that have been interested in BANZZAI™ for some time, mainly in Europe”.
The point of difference offered by BANZZAI™ with its characteristic appearance, large size, ease of peel and distinctive flavor represents an interesting innovation in the second part of the season, where varieties such as Orri, Tango or Nadorcott lead in the mandarin segment. However, as David points out, “BANZZAI™ does not intend to replace or compete with them in any way. In this case, we are talking about a very different product, a niche of very high value and clearly different from the traditional mandarin format due to its size, shape and ease of peel. BANZZAI™ comes to complement and revitalize the citrus offer, seeking to make the category more interesting and attractive for the consumer, so that it gains a greater market share compared to other fruits and foods”.
BANZZAI™ and consumer trends: fresh, natural, healthy and full of flavour
“Citrus consumption has experienced significant growth in 2020. In the UK, citrus consumption grew by 9% throughout the year, while in the United States growth was double digit, amounting to 13%”, David explains. “This is a clear indicator that consumers are increasingly interested in fresh and natural products that contribute to their health and well-being, and, in the context of a global pandemic, we believe that this consumer trend will continue to grow in the next years”.
“In this regard, through a collaborative project with Valencia’s Institute of Molecular and Cellular Plant Biology (IBMCP), in which we have analyzed the antioxidant activity of different varieties of citrus, it was found that BANZZAI™ has a quantity of vitamin C very similar to that of a lemon. This is a very relevant added value” said David.
“Among other trends, we see that consumers demonstrate a dual and polarized behavior. On the one hand, they seek to add savings to their purchases and their shopping basket, but, on the other hand, they focus on premium products when it comes to pampering themselves, paying a higher price for goods if necessary. Although these more impulsive and not so rational purchases have traditionally occurred in other less healthy categories, now the premium segment is growing in fresh products and fruit has a perfect opportunity to create premium, healthy and natural products satisfying that demand”.
“In addition, the trend of convenience or ease of consumption is maintained, where BANZZAI™ fits perfectly. It is truly an easy to peel fruit, it segments apart very well without releasing juice, it has no seeds, its texture is sumptuous, it leaves no residue in the mouth and its flavor is simply exceptional”, he emphasizes. “In fact, that is the consumer profile BANZZAI™ is intended for: someone who is looking for easy-to-consume natural foods, concerned about their well-being and who also seek innovative products that delight their palate,” concludes the CEO.