30 Most Influential Companies of the year 2020 (Special Edition)
Food processing is one of the most complicated industries, where companies need to take care of the health of the consumers as well as remain sustainable and profitable. Frutco AG is one of the food processing companies that is dedicated to delivering quality food and beverages. They focus on a variety of raw fruits varieties, including bananas, pineapples, mangoes, guavas, passion fruits, and citrus fruits, as well as a huge selection of other processed fruits. We talked to Frank Hofer, the CEO of Frutco AG, who shared the company's vision and responsibilities.
Why did you start a company in this arena? How successful is Frutco today?
Back in 1991, Gerber Inc. USA had a plant in San Jose, Costa Rica, for the processing of fresh bananas into the banana puree. Over time, production volume exceeded their own needs for banana puree for baby food production, which needed expansion and collaboration. Gerber Inc. decided to sell its excess volume on the free market. In Europe, they found M Rüdiger and H Schenker, two experts in the drinks market.
With M Rüdiger and H Schenker, Gerber Finance USA founded Frutco AG in Lostorf SO. Frutco AG received the license to act as a sales partner for the banana puree in Europe for Geber Ingredients in Costa Rica. Over the years to come, Frutco AG expanded its sales of banana puree worldwide. Later, more and more, mainly tropical fruits, were added to the portfolio. Now, we are one of the world's leading Swiss companies in our field.
What variety of baby foods do you have? Explain in detail.
We have a variety of baby food products. One of our famous products in the Baby food category is Pineapple Puree, which is made from MD2 pineapple, cultivated under strictly monitored conditions for baby food. This means it meets the strict regulations for baby food in Europe and the USA. They are processed when perfectly ripe, free from pathogens, moulds, decay, and skin. The pineapples come from Costa Rica or Guatemala.
Another famous Baby food is Banana Puree, which is made using Cavendish bananas, cultivated under strictly monitored conditions for baby food. The bananas come from Costa Rica or Colombia. The Orange Puree Infant food (baby food) contains foods and ingredients that are particularly suitable for feeding babies. The legal requirements are comprehensive and particularly strict. Additives such as colorants, flavors, or artificial sweeteners are not permitted. Heavy metals and nitrates are strictly regulated. It is also free from pesticides.
Children essentially require healthy food, which is found in baby foods. How is Frutco different from others?
Due to our backward integration, we have control over the cultivation. Not just us, but also our joint venture partners, operate strictly controlled fruit cultivation. We can trace everything back at any time. We have full transparency over the entire supply chain. This way, we keep our products totally healthy and pure.
How does Frutco maintain quality while providing a variety of baby foods?
Our own plant and all of our suppliers are certified in accordance with a recognized GFSI standard (FSSC 22000, BRC, or IFS). The HACCP concept is reviewed annually for each production facility. SGF certification is a mandatory requirement. Pesticide and other impurity analyses are carried out by recognized labs each year.
Furthermore, most production facilities have kosher and/or halal certification. All quality measures are implemented to guarantee the traceability of all of our fruit products from each individual operation right through to products that we deliver to our customers and fulfill the statutory requirements for the countries we supply.
What are Frutco's vision and mission statements?
Vision - By processing whole fruits, we have become a market leader as we return by-products to the food supply chain.
Mission - Frutco plays an essential role as a producer, seller, and supplier of processed tropical fruits. We are active across the whole supply chain, ensuring the necessary resources for our customers.
Values - We are obligated to excellence and quality in everything that we do. Fairness and respect towards people and resources take top priority for us. Our thoughts and actions are based on the long term.
Are you involved in CSR activities?
Yes, we definitely believe in Corporate Social Responsibility Principles. As a family-run company, we think long-term, and it is essential for us not to live at the expense of future generations. We, therefore, fully support all efforts to promote sustainability and best practices throughout the value chain.
For the Planet:
We are a member of the CSR platform of the AIJN and the Sustainable Juice Covenant, where we participate in various committees. Frutco is committed to being 100% sustainable by 2030. Our progress is reviewed annually by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) as part of the Sustainable Juice Covenant, and we are already 84% sustainable today. New technologies help us reduce energy and water consumption in the processing, plants, and supply chain. Through R&D, we increase the yield and thus, reduce waste. It is our goal to supply 100% of the fruit to the food chain.
Frutco and also our partner producers are part of the Rainforest Alliance. We support small and medium farmers in the implementation of new technologies and thus support local value creation. Furthermore, we are committed to neutralizing our activities' total greenhouse gas emissions, establishing a carbon-neutral goal.
For the people:
We pay fair wages and treat men and women equally. We promote business models that involve local farmers and guarantee an income by connecting to the international market. We offer a social and safe working environment.
As education is an important aspect of society, we take over further training of our employees at our own expense and support education and schools for our employees' families. We ensure proper social standards in the respective countries and along the entire value chain. We are also concerned about our employees' health as we ensure them good medical care and a fair Work-Life- Balance.
Our side products are returned to the food value chain through further processing and are therefore not thrown away. A very important task is to constantly work on reducing the use of pesticides. As a participant of the EU Farm to Fork initiative, we assure controlled farming: Our own farms are digitally monitored with Cropin. The same is planned for the farms of our partners.
About the CEO
Frank Hofer is the Chief Executive Officer of Frutco AG. He is well experienced with a demonstrated history of working in the packaging and food industry. Frank is skilled in Management, Engineering, Strategic Planning, Business Process Improvement, Marketing, and Leadership. He is also a strong business development professional who graduated from Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW.
"We bring processed fruits from the tropics to your table. We do this sustainably and fairly. We use the latest technologies and scientific findings. Your health is important to us. We pay attention to high quality and food safety. We support you in your projects and do it so economically that all stakeholders benefit."