Although fruit growers were scratching their heads at first when they were introduced to the small fruit trees that Plantinova put on the market 7 years ago, ornamental growers were immediately enthusiastic. Since then, sales figures of the Fruit Me trees are showing an upward trend.
Originally, Plantinova was in the fruit industry, licensing and controlling fruits in southern Europe. Later on, they started licensing and marketing new genetics from breeders around the world to growers worldwide in mainly bedding plants and perennials and have their own trial station in Vilassar de Mar (BA), Spain.
Plantinova supplies the Fruit Me trees to a mix of ornamental and fruit growers. “The interesting part in this was that the concept turned out to be harder to explain to a fruit grower than to ornamental growers. The fruit growers traditionally put them in a big pot, whereas ornamental growers understood the story better about making this small tree for consumers,” says Charlotte Weis, Partner Sales & Customer Support at the company.
Popular peach tree
The Fruit Me program started with a small peach tree. “We have the license for the Ice Peach, a fruit variety with remarkable ivory-white skin and flesh”, says Charlotte Weis. “We showed the Fruit me Trees - just a few - eight years ago as part of our open days to our ornamental clients. Clearly we were not aware of the big potential of small fruit trees at that time, as it caught the attention of many visitors who were very excited about it.” So, the years after, in 2013, they started to develop the concept and started to reach out to retailers in France and Spain. Slowly they have built up a program, which nowadays includes cherries, nectarine, apple, raspberry, almonds and flat, yellow and red peaches. In 2014, they officially launched the product and had their first sales.
Fruit me series in the greenhouse
Exotic fruits for cold climates / Big fruits on small trees
“The idea behind the project is to bring the fruits into the ornamental business, introducing exotic fruits on a special root and stem. This allows consumers to grow it in containers in small gardens and on balconies."
Although the trees are small, the fruits are normal size. "This is due to micro grafting, a technique our partner who is specialized in fruit grafting uses. “You see many traditionally grafted products on a thick stem. Thanks to this technique ours are more elegant and thin. It is a more expensive way to do it, but for us it makes a high scale product.”
Another difference is in the specially developed rootpac and the selected stem, which makes the tree strong enough to thrive well in cold climates and resist the over and under watering of the consumer. “The trees are suitable for climates where temperatures go down to minus 15 degrees Celsius. So also in central & northern European countries consumers can grow and enjoy peaches, almonds and other fruits.”
Since their introduction, sales have increased sharply. "The size, the fact that it can be grown in a container, that it is self-pollinating, decorative flowering, and gives fruits in the first year, combined with the trend of growing your own fruits - even in small spaces - are some of the reasons for the growth in demand."
Now, after five years of increasing sales, the demand for the small fruit trees is stable. However, the almond tree and the Ice peach, are still increasing in popularity. “Urban interest and the super fruit trend are part of this success”, says Weis. “Marketing on social media, of course, is also very important for this product”
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