Westfalia Fruit Group's Alk Brand Discusses Growth Opportunities and Unifying a Global Brand
OXNARD, CA - To be able to call oneself a multinational supplier is no small accreditation, especially in today’s complicated global supply chain which is further challenged by the rising costs of doing business across four hemispheres. To do it well takes vision, strategy, and execution. To be great takes the support of a team of individuals who share the same belief system, goals, and values—a team like the one representing the foundation of Westfalia Fruit Group.
Alk Brand, Chief Executive Office, is at the helm of this avocado powerhouse, and as he sets his sights further into 2023, he shared with me the nature of such a dynamic and efficient framework, and how a sound system of interconnected parts is keeping the company full steam ahead.
“One of my mandates, when I joined the operation, was to integrate this multifaceted company into a single group instead of just the sum of its parts. In the early days, Westfalia functioned more like independent, successful regional companies instead of one larger entity. The reason for this is that we initially grew through acquisition,” Alk shared with me, adding that because most of the companies Westfalia employed were entrepreneurial, and the decision at that time was to allow them to run themselves as their previous successes had dictated. “But, when we got to the scale we have reached in recent years, we needed the benefit of synergies and finding ways to work together as one. Today, we are one group that has the same identity, the same message to consumers, the same methodologies, and the same values. Now, to grow that model.”
So, how do you take an already gargantuan company and grow it into something exponentially greater while maintaining its health and value system? Alk smiles, responding with a very serious, but playful: We're very ambitious.
“We are doing this by enriching our team through responsible growth—enabling our colleagues through stellar management, through trading, and by making resources available to ensure they are able to grow with a strong support system,” Alk reflects. “We also have to protect our staff through the best health and safety practices. We need to protect our communities by looking after them. We need to protect the environment because otherwise, none of us would be here in any way. I think we need to manage all three in balance: responsible growth, enablement, and protection.”
This framework of support is carried across all major growing origins including Southern Africa, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and California in the USA as well as across its sales offices that reside there as well—a task in itself, but one that Westfalia executes with a unique grace and fortitude.
“Our strength at the moment is in Europe, that's where the biggest concentration of our business is. And, even in Europe, they sell lots of things from the U.S., so we have very specific plans for Europe. In the U.S., we are relatively a new player in the market. We've only really started actively working in the U.S. about 10 years ago,” Alk details. “The interest we have garnered from retail partners in the U.S. tells us that this is an amazing market in which to expand. We bring a high-value model that supports every aspect of the supply chain and buying operation—from the seed to the shelf.”
There are also huge opportunities in the rest of the world, specifically in regions in India, China, Japan, and South Korea, Alk adds.
“The avocados are really in the first stages of development and expansion here. We invested fairly heavily in India as well, and I personally backed that as something which is going to be special for us as a business,” he says.
These would all just be high hopes if it weren’t for the amazing team that Alk and his company have nurtured over recent years—an element he is quick to remind me of. As I look out over the proverbial landscape our story paints, I deeply believe in his passion and his will. And I believe Westfalia’s partners feel this same comfort as well.