Wellpak has been nominated as the UK packer and distribution point for Spanish based Iberveg UK for the account management and packing of its salads range, including tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, peppers and lettuces.
Based in Almeria in Southern Spain, Iberveg is a rapidly growing business with an expected turnover of £15 million this year.
Iberveg was formed in 2012 by co-owners Richard Vater and Bradley Brown. Richard was a derivatives trader for 15 years working in New York, Boston, Frankfurt and London, and Bradley is a third-generation fruit and vegetable wholesaler.
While Iberveg began as a procurement business, it soon developed close links with its growers and has since become intricately involved in the planting programmes and varietal development selection.
Iberveg specialises in Spanish salad produce, primarily from the Almeria region. It works with local growers in the region and forms close relationships that are based on mutual trust and cooperation. Their main grower of peppers, for example, is Patri Sanchez, a third-generation grower.
Traditionally, Patri worked with the larger Almerian cooperatives but, in the last few years, he has become more independent to provide his farm with greater flexibility. This was when Patri and Iberveg began working together and they have formed a close professional relationship.
Patri and Iberveg collaborate to plan growing programmes, with Iberveg handling the customer representation. The emphasis is always on customer service and pressing for the best deal for the grower to provide security of supply. This security enables the grower to invest in crops and new developments.
For tomatoes, Iberveg works with Bonifacio Berenguel, a second-generation grower. Bonifacio also found working with the larger cooperatives inflexible and so turned to Iberveg to provide an alternative route to market.
Iberveg is working with multi-national seed house Gautier to trial a new variety of cherry tomato. High brix content will make these tomatoes taste especially sweet throughout the whole production period. They will also be highly resistant to the most destructive disease for tomatoes – the yellow leaf curl virus.
Working closely with growers is a model that Iberveg has worked on consistently and it has gained a reputation for personal interaction and integrated planning.
Iberveg is exactly the type of supplier Wellpak is building its salads business on – with close links to its grower base, detailed care for joint development and security of supply (of produce and financial returns), and a paramount focus on customer service.
Wellpak works as with its service partner, Elision UK, also based in Evesham, where the contract packer is developing a specialised and dedicated salads packing unit on one of its two sites.
‘Wellpak’s partnership with Iberveg is one of cornerstones of our growing salads category,’ says Rebecca Quiney, Business Unit – Salads at Wellpak. ‘It provides exactly what we need – a stable and reliable platform as a guarantee of quality and supply for our customers to agree year round programmes, as well as the knowledge that concern for the grower is uppermost in all that we do together.’
Richard at Iberveg echoed Rebecca’s comments, saying: ‘The UK is a competitive market and we need a relationship with a company like Wellpak to make sure we get the best deals for us and for our growers. Wellpak is relying on us to deliver and we want to make sure they can. It is a business with wide and deep experience in the UK market – and not just in the salads category – and it also has access to other services, through its service partners like Elision UK and Ackio, that further reinforces its ability to provide the resource, expertise and capacity that we need to be successful.’