“S-GE and the Swiss Business Hubs assist us both with sourcing and opening up new markets. I am delighted with the organization’s offering and am especially pleased with the rapid response time, the goodwill and the advisors’ high level of motivation.”
What inspired you to get in touch with S-GE?
Beatrice Fasana: Weather conditions made 2017 was a very tough year for fig farmers in the northern hemisphere: our existing suppliers were only able to deliver a third of our usual 300 tons of figs. In our search for new partners, we quickly focused on South America – not least because the ripening time there is a couple of months later. To find out more about Brazil, South America’s biggest fig producer, we contacted S-GE.
How was the organization able to assist your business?
S-GE and the Swiss Business Hub in São Paulo immediately organized a research trip for us to the heart of the Brazilian fig-growing industry. During this fact-finding trip in spring 2017, we were accompanied by professionals – not only representatives of the Swiss Business Hub, but also government officials, agronomists and experts in local fig processing.
What was the result of this trip?
After visiting and evaluating seven farms, S-GE helped us find a dealer who handles purchasing for us and takes care of all the logistical details. This allowed us to build a second supply chain in Brazil that still exists today: Sandro Vanini AG attaches great importance to obtaining at least one to two 20-foot containers of figs from our Brazilian partner every year. They “saved” us in 2017 – and may have to do so again.
Which obstacles had to be overcome when working with the new supplier?
In Brazil, the main crops are expensive, ready-to-eat figs. During the harvest, the retail sector is stocked first of all. The fully ripe fruit harvested later is processed into jam. For our products, however, the figs have to be picked green. Since the fruits near the trunk ripen faster than those on the outside of the branches, each tree must also be picked for harvest several times. Our supplier has found suitable partners who do not shy away from this additional effort and who have also been able to develop new areas for cultivation. And because we compensate for this financially, we have created a real win-win situation.
Were you able to open up new markets in Brazil?
We didn’t even sound it out, as South American markets are less appealing for our products. This is in contrast to Asia, where we want to continue to grow in the years to come.
How will S-GE support your company in the future?
We are currently on the lookout for high quality candied fruit in cubes. As soon as we have a shortlist, we will request the appropriate samples. Our aim is to outsource the production of such baking ingredients in the long term.
What is crucial for the success of an SME abroad?
Internal and external knowledge must be pooled at an early stage. S-GE has a very broad base – both in terms of the countries and the different markets it serves. However, the experts are not familiar with every industry right down to the last detail. Accordingly, it is important for a business to get to grips with specific circumstances and requirements at an early stage. This applies to opening up new markets as well as successful sourcing.
What do you make of cooperation with S-GE?
The organization’s sourcing services might be expensive (laughs), but they’re also pretty great! From our adventure in Brazil, I particularly remember the quick response time, solid preparation and comprehensive reporting – as well as the personal support provided on site by the Swiss Business Hub.
Where do you see Sandro Vanini AG in five years?
We expect growth to remain as strong as we have seen in previous years until 2028. We want to achieve this by taking steps such as opening up new markets.