The Mariani brand took root in 1906, when Paul A. Marini purchased his first four acres of land in the California, Santa Clara Valley and planted fruit trees. Mariani is owned and operated by third and fourth generation family members. It is the largest independently owned producer of dried fruit in the world, producing over 125 million pounds of fruit each year. The Mariani brand has been synonymous with innovation and has been first to market with cutting-edge breakthroughs in the dried fruit industry. Mariani products can be found in over 40,000 retail outlets in the United States and in over 52 countries around the globe.
Developing the European sector of the business
As the company continued to grow both in the United States and as a global brand, it was decided by the executive team to pursue opportunities in the European sector. It was at this stage that Andy Humphries, director, Mariani Europe, joined the business. As a newly formed team, Humphries and the rest of the European executive board made the decision to pursue industrial production over and above retail production. “We wanted to establish ourselves as key players in the industrial market before branching out into the retail sector.” says Humphries
Mariani Europe’s roll out strategy was three fold: The first priority of the business was to solve its logistics requirements and build a distribution hub in Europe. In order to do this, the company formed a partnership with VAT Logistics in Rotterdam, which allows far greater flexibility within its supply chain. “It enables our customers to order what they want, when they want, and how much they want, from full pallets down to cases, as dried fruit supply isn’t just about quality, innovation and cost, it’s about giving the customer the flexibility when ordering as well.”
The second element of its strategy focused on having the right team of people accessible to its customers. “One of our main priorities as a business is to offer our customers a full service package. Our sales team are dried fruit experts, and partner with our clients to develop solutions for their business needs and requirements,” says Humphries.
The third key aspect of the plan is centered on product development and marketing. The company made a decision early on in its development that it wanted to do more than supply a core commodity – it wants to focus on value added. “Having the right product line is critical to success,” says Humphries.
Focusing on value added
The decision to focus on value added was based on extensive market research, carried out by Mariani. “We spoke to our customers and they asked for one of two things,” explains Humphries. “They want a core product at the right price, but they also want various product ranges. We worked on a value added range for this very reason. We want to be a full service provider for our customers, big or small.
“If you take the core commodity, you have three key steps: First, process it using existing means to add value. Second, add an additive to make it more functional. And third, develop an innovative product that is first to market. Value added is the thrust of what we do and it is driven by customer demand,” he says.
Building a solid foundation
Having the right product is one thing, but without a solid team and a strong company culture any business will find it hard to get off the ground; Humphries and his team understand this.
“We subscribe to five key principles as a business,” he says. “One is Mutual Respect for each other, the second is We Embrace Change, third is Continuous Improvement, the fourth is Never Compromise on Quality and the fifth is Build for the Future.”
Mariani Europe has ambitious plans for expansion and Humphries believes these core principles will help it achieve its goals. Within the next five years Humphries would like to see the business turnover $100 million in revenue and be recognized as a value added supplier of products and ingredients across the continent.
“The strategy is right, the people are right and the products are right. We have a culture where our employees believe in our core values. People are the most fundamental cornerstone of our strategies and they are focused on driving growth for the future.” he concludes.