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San Gabriel in expansion mode

After launching Persian lime to Europe more than a decade ago, the Mexican grower-exporter is now supplying a range of fruits via its new UK office


San Gabriel is making solid progress in Europe, particularly in the UK where the company established a local subsidiary in November last year. Currently, the group ships 20 per cent of its lime output to the UK and 35 per cent to Europe in total, where the bulk of its volume is handled via a successful partnership with Agrexco.

“The UK office was born from a need to develop a permanent presence in Europe in order to better meet customer requirements,” managing director Rolando Olivares tells Eurofruit Magazine. “This is especially important when clients need to speak to someone in the company, given the big time difference with Mexico.”

Additionally, Mr. Olivares says the UK presence has allowed San Gabriel to distribute other Latin American-grown fruits. “So far, we have introduced avocados and table grapes from Mexico, pineapples from Costa Rica and mangoes from Ecuador,” he explains. “The objective is to offer our customers a greater range of products, which will help them to either introduce new lines to their business or to simply expand their current supply base.”

In Europe as a whole, San Gabriel distributes its limes through Agrexco, with whom the company has a long history. “Our first European shipment was made to Agrexco’s German subsidiary in 1994,” Mr. Olivares states. “We’ve basically worked together ever since, later starting direct exports to Carmexco in the Netherlands and Agrexco UK in 2005.”

Mr. Olivares says the link-up with Agrexco is a strategic one. “Agrexco operates branches in many European countries and can help us reach new customers,” he says. “For instance, Agrexco currently markets our limes in the UK, Germany, France, Austria, The Netherlands and Scandinavia.”

“The firm also handles limes from other sources as well, so if ever San Gabriel has a problem (such as complications due to the weather) our clients will still have a regular supply of limes until we are back in the market. One of our main objectives is to increase lime consumption across Europe, and we believe this can be achieved if we work closely with companies like Agrexco.”

Between April and December 2009, San Gabriel exported 3,600 tonnes of Persian limes to the UK. With an additional 20 per cent of its groves entering production this year and favourable weather conditions to date, the group is looking forward to further expanding its shipments in 2010.

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