As Fruit World Company, Inc. BB #:187196 Reedley, CA, celebrates its fifth anniversary, its founders can see their original business ideas were sound and worth building on.
“When we started out our original goal was to ensure our family farms continued into future generations, and we quickly realized that’s a mission that a lot of people support and are excited about,” said Bianca Kaprielian, CEO and co-founder. “We were able to think bigger and start representing other family farms beyond our own.”
At the start of its sixth year, Fruit World has a brand refresh coming, Equitable Food Initiative certification, organic acreage expansion, and plans to introduce new citrus and grape varieties.
Kaprielian co-founded Fruit World in the spring of 2017 with C.J. Buxman, president, as both came from families involved in the stone fruit business. The company began growing and marketing conventional and organic citrus and organic stone fruit, grapes and specialty fruit.
The company’s focus now is mainly on citrus and grapes, mostly organic, with an emphasis on quality.
The company’s core values of quality in the field and in the fruit remain. Fruit World is adding acreage for navels and mandarins and is increasing the acreage transitioning from conventional to organic.
New varieties include variegated lemons, buddha hands, kumquats, mandarinquats, and finger limes.
While organic citrus remains popular with consumers, Buxman said he’s concerned about it being commoditized, so the company will continue with consumer education on what the benefits of organic growing means.
“Organic citrus — I’d say organics in general — is slowly becoming more commoditized, and will continue so in future years if customers are not educated about the growing challenges and practices behind being organic,” Buxman said.
“I think the biggest differentiator in success will be the end customer eating experience. Focusing on the customer experience creates the type of differentiation that we want as a company.”
Like citrus, the focus of Fruit World is quality and eating experience.
This year, the company is growing more fragrant heritage varieties rather than chasing size and sugar, Buxman said.
“These varieties were previously popular for a reason, and they’re still just as good now for the same reason,” he said. “It’s a niche market, so not over planting will be important, as well as customer awareness, and maybe a little education will be needed in order to grow the market.”
Organic offerings are growing at Fruit World because it’s important to the company’s core values.
“To us, organic is a way of thinking and living, a philosophy and values system,” Kaprielian said. “We believe that growing organic produce benefits ourselves, our families, and our world, making the environment a healthier place for our generation and future generations to come.”
“We’ve seen more customers either add or expand their organic offerings,” she said. “It’s great to see more customers expanding their organic offerings. We’re seeing it on the grower side too — more growers are open to embracing organic practices in their fields.”
Not all start-ups succeed, and after five years, Kaprielian and Buxman can point to many things that have led to success. Among them, they say, are both coming from multi-generational farming families, working with experts and invested partners, remaining nimble, investing in relationships, building trust with both growers and customers, and believing in what they do.
“EFI certification is an important and exciting achievement this year because it aligns with what we’re all about as a company in many ways: to increase assurance around the work environment of farmworkers across our entire food chain,” Buxman said.
“EFI’s comprehensive audit addresses labor conditions, food safety and pest management,” he said. “We want to ensure our company culture embraces equity, strives for continuous improvement, and supports the professionals who keep our food supply fresh, safe, and healthy. Not only is it in our values system, but it’s good for business in the long term.”