Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



Web caters for Spanish fruit and veg

The internet has become a sales channel for fruit and vegetables in Spain, where freight shippers and producers are developing concerted strategies. The online sale of fruit and vegetables needs to add value to production (like organic produce) and demands the utmost reliability and transparency from logistics.

SPAIN. Revenue from e-commerce in Spain hit a record high of nearly €11 billion in 2011. This may still be well down on volumes in the likes of France and Germany, but growth is sharp (+20 per cent last year). Spanish fruit and vegetable websites are finding their place, albeit this place is only a small part of the market. 

The first online sales of fruit and vegetables in Spain emerged in 2002 in the form of , which said it could ship oranges anywhere on the Iberian peninsula within 24 hours. 

Its success has spawned competitors such as . Transport remains one of the most important parts of expanding this trade. Those involved need their goods delivered to customers - whether private individuals or retailers - within 24 hours. 

Courier companies are best positioned to help. SEUR , for example, has implemented an e-commerce solution that enables better communication with its clients. Joaquim López, manager of a logistics platform at SEUR, explains: "The key to success in e-business in general, and fruit and veg in particular, is transparency and the ability to get information to customers so they can track the produce in real time."

Shared offers was one of the first Spanish websites to sell fruit and vegetables (photo: DR) was one of the first Spanish websites to sell fruit and vegetables (photo: DR)

All this obviously comes at a cost. For B2B, i.e. trade between producers and retailers, the additional expense can be absorbed into the overall logistics operations of the distributor. This is not the case, however, for direct sales to end-customers. 

"Individual consumers do not want to bear transport costs. E-commerce is coming up against this obstacle," explains Luis Aratun, director of courier companyTips@. 

In order to clear this obstacle, it is essential to focus on the added value of the produce. That is why organic producers have had success in a market as niche as online sales of fruit and vegetables. 

Shared offers are even more a guarantee of success.,for example, which groups together 70 producers for distribution throughout Spain. This solution also provides more choice to customers, with the ability to buy a whole range of fruit and vegetables depending on the season. Grouping producers together is an effective way of spreading throughout the year what is, by its very nature, a hugely seasonal business. 

Francis Mateo, BARCELONA

Monday, October 29th 2012

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