Not unlike the story of other successful companies, GOGO Fruit’s inception was sparked by a need identified by an intuitive entrepreneur. Eben Kruger saw that importers, supermarkets, wholesalers and retailers were looking for high quality fruit to match the standards demanded by their customers, but at the time finding fruit of that excellence in the volume required and from one reliable source was considered rare. And so Eben and his colleague Tian Kruger launched GOGO with the goal of creating a “5-star citrus brand” that customers could turn to for blemish-free citrus fruit, “each as sweet and juicy as the last.”
Very quickly, the GOGO vision expanded to bring that same quality to customers outside of South Africa, and the GOGO exports business was born. GOGO now exports to key markets all over the world and now exports approximately 1.5 million cartons (940 containers) per year. It is
estimated that by 2015, GOGO will be exporting more than 3 million cartons (1,900 containers). The company offers a variety of citrus fruit throughout the year including Navels, Navellates, Cambria, Midnights, Delta Seedless and Lemons and its network of producers are all located in Marble Hall and Groblersdal in the Loskop Valley, an area known for its rich soil and ample water source from the nearby Loskop dam. Together the farms provide approximately 1,270 hectares of citrus growing potential.
GOGO seems to take great pride in its exclusive network of fruit producers and offers full transparency to customers on its website, with detailed profiles of each of its partnered farmers – El Sundew Farming, JFK Botha, J.J. Gouws Farming, Neels kok and Tian Kruger Farming – which also includes their specific crops and certifications.
Considering the rising trend among consumers in North America and Europe taking a keen interest in traceability and understanding exactly where their fruits and vegetables are coming from, this access to information seems to be a positive selling point.
Although delivering a high-quality product starts with the farmers, the technology and supply chain have to be streamlined to ensure quality is preserved as long as possible, which is something GOGO has done quite effectively as well.
In December 2010, GOGO launched GOGO Cold Rooms to gain more control over the storage, packing and distribution process. The facility was strategically built within a 30 kilometre radius of all GOGO producers and equipped with a fully computerised, temperature-controlled system of cold rooms, holding rooms and de-greening rooms, running on the Pal track store program to create the most optimum conditions for its stock and to ensure precise loading for its clients’ requirements.
With a mind for future growth opportunities and tapping into the growing expectations for businesses to offer their products online, GOGO’s management has also taken the company digital by launching its online store in February.
Furthermore, GOGO is also keeping connected with its customers through its e-newsletter, which offers the latest citrus trends from around the world, news from GOGO’s farmers as well as a copy of GOGO’s shipping schedule.
This attention to the highest quality and utmost detail in customer experience has helped GOGO expand successfully into international territories with its foray into Asia as well as the Middle East.
Although thousands of miles apart, GOGO has been able to maintain a personal touch with its Far East business due to having Eben’s son, Brendon, living and breathing the market from within China. He has been able to ensure GOGO’s famous quality has been maintained during shipments and provide live feedback as soon as the containers have been opened. Furthermore, having someone on the ground has provided GOGO with insights to remain competitive by understanding any fluctuations in the market as they happen and ensure the fruit is always sold for the best possible price in the competitive Asian market.
In the Middle East, GOGO has partnered with the marketing strategy of Star South Fruits to gain a competitive edge in the region.
“Being one step ahead of our competition in the Middle East, the shareholders of GOGO ME realize that this market is not in one street but consists of different customers in different countries, each with their own unique populations, cultures and needs.”
No truer words spoken and one of GOGO’s advantages over suppliers from Chile and Argentina is understanding what its clients in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai and Iran are looking for and providing them with long-term profitable and sustainable business relationships based on the highest levels of honesty and professionalism, as well as five-star citrus fruit.
Earlier this year in March, GOGO took the next step by announcing that the group’s European marketing activities and strategy for 2013 would be rolled out and managed by Cool Fresh International and 4Fruit Company, two Dutch fresh produce trading houses with subsidiaries in at least 10 different countries.
Eben said that the decision to enter into the exclusive marketing agreement with the two companies was made on the basis of the positive cooperation his Group had built up since 2000. The objective for GOGO and its marketing partners is to be in control of their fruit every step of the way, and to prevent a situation where different receivers in the same market actually cause GOGO’s products to compete with itself.
“To date, the GOGO brand had made a name for itself in some key global markets,” said Eben. “We are still just as passionate about citrus, and now the time has come to streamline our activities, specifically with regards to global marketing. Having worked with a number of different receivers in the past, from 2013 the GOGO Group intends to work with strong marketing partnerships which can interact with our Group on a long-term basis. We need to do this to make sure that our objectives for growth, intelligent marketing and cost control are achieved.”