Cherrygood founder hints at functional fruit direction

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fruit

Cherrygood founder hints at functional fruit direction
The founder of a successful UK cherry juice firm is exploring possible product launches on a functional foods platform, FoodManufacture.co.uk can reveal.

Cherrygood has only been trading since June 2009, but turned over £1.2m in its first 12 months and produces around 2m litres of cherry juice for sale worldwide in Original Cherry, Cherry and Berry and low calorie Cherry Light varieties. The firm's runaway sales success is such that Clydesdale Bank has now lent the firm £600,000 to further growth.

Led by founder John Heseltine and business partner Martin Hall, Cherrygood is enthusiastic about the health benefits of its montmorency cherry stock sourced from Michigan’s ‘cherry belt’, which is then imported to the UK for processing at a third-party facility.

Cherry good for you?

With the mainstream UK sports nutrition market taking off, Maxinutrition – recently bought by GlaxoSmithKline​ – is marketing sports tablets for women containing cherry extracts that, it is claimed, assist muscle recovery, aid restful sleep, improve immunity.

Asked if Cherrygood was interested in exploring a similar functional foods platform for cherries – in line with the firm’s plans to launch new products in 2011 and his advocacy of the fruit’s “amazing health benefits” ​– Heseltine told FoodManufacture.co.uk:

“It’s a very interesting area. I can’t talk too much about this now, but there’s certainly a strong possibility that we could do something in this direction within the next 12 months.”

Expanding export markets

Heseltine said that the £600,000 investment would be used to grow the firm’s core UK business, ramp-up production and “rapidly expand”​ the firm’s export markets in a bid to become a £100m business within 10 years.

Cherrygood had already done deals to supply its juice to the Middle East, Holland, Greece, Germany and throughout Europe, Heseltine said, while it is currently discussing a “strong possibility in the US”​, which he described as a “key growth market”​ where Cherrygood’s 10-year plan goes.

Within the UK, Cherrygood had just inked a deal with Amazon to sell juice online, Heseltine said – existing stockists include Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrison’s – while the firm hopes to extend its supermarket distribution further in 2011.

Bucking the trend

According to Heseltine, Cherrygood is the fastest-growing new juice drink within a UK juice and smoothie category that has declined by around £114m in value terms over the past two years. So how has the firm bucked the trend?

“Innovation has helped us, since we have a product where the flavour and quality appeals to a mass market. It’s isn’t a niche brand, given that everyone from kids through to grandmothers love us.

“Moreover, cherries aren’t challenging to consumers in the way that, perhaps pomegranates, acai berries, or some fruit that’s come from the upper reaches of the Amazon river are. The products have real mass appeal."

Heseltine added that Cherrygood’s successful business plan also involves contracting out as many processes as possible.“We started in the middle of a recession, and grew with the help of strong third-party business partners,” ​he said.

Related topics: Drinks

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