There is so much economic bad news these days that many psychologists are talking about a collective “depression” not economic but emotional amongst Americans. In light of the fact that the news is full of the exporting of jobs to foreign countries, Oregon Fruit is successfully exporting our delicious Berry UP! beverage base to Korea made by Oregonians from fruit grown in Oregon. Even the Governor’s office is taking notice. Asian consumers love the fantastic fruit we grow in the Pacific Northwest. They are drawn to the health benefits as well as the quality. On a recent trade mission to Asia, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, the first lady and Oregon Director of Agriculture, Katy Coba enjoyed their BerryUp! smoothies with the Managing Director of Café Bene, Mr. Hwang and our agent Claire Kim from G&L Food Co. Look at Ms. Kim sporting her Oregon Fruit shirt!
The Governor’s office reports that Oregon Exports are one of the bright spots in the state’s economy with international trade growing by 19%. Oregon Fruit Export Sales Manager, Bryan Brown, would like to think we had a hand in this growth. Bryan has been selling Oregon Fruit in many forms internationally for years. He has A LOT of frequent flyer miles. Our canned fruit is found on the shelf all over Asia, the United Arab Emirates, in South Africa, India and Indonesia, we pack a private label for canned customers in Australia and New Zealand and now we are selling BerryUP! in Korea and China! Berry UP! is delicious fresh tasting fruit you can pour for creating cocktails, mocktails, smoothies, shakes dessert toppings and more. In the US it is the foundation for the signature drink menu at Ruby Tuesday restaurants all over the country and soon to be found in more and more restaurants and college campuses.
The international markets are an interesting and challenging opportunity for us as we are still a very small business by American standards and represent something of the American dream-a family owned and operated business. Bryan partnered with another small business in Korea- G&L Food Co., Ltd established in November 2004 with a company mission to create the best value for customers, and employees developing, marketing and selling high-valued foods and food ingredients all over the world. It’s a small company comprised of just 15 employees. They import and distribute our products in Korea and one of their major customers is Caffe Bene. Caffe opened their first store in 2008 and are up to 600 stores throughout the country now! Caffe Bene built their success by differentiating themselves from western café chain brands such as Starbucks using marketing tools like promoting through celebrities and product placement in soap operas or movies to appeal to the younger generation.
The Oregon Fruit Chinese business was developed by our own Dey Tu, IT Manager turned salesman. Dey is a naturalized American citizen who started his career handling our IT department at Oregon Fruit about 11 years ago. When our President, Joe Peterson decided to try to export BerryUP! to China he looked around the table and found a native Chinese speaker and said “your it” and Dey responded to the challenge. Today you can find BerryUP! in a 200 restaurant chain in China called “Houcaller”.
That’s the way things happen at Oregon Fruit, a little like the way I became the Queen of Tarts- Joe looked around the table and said “your it”. Working for a small company is a fun experience. We get to try new things, step out of our comfort zone on a regular basis and explore new territory. Sometimes that territory is THE WORLD! If Joe wants to take our products to the Moon I am going to duck.