Toucan Fruit innovates the exotic fruit import process

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Name: Toucan Fruit
Industry/sector: Exporting
Date founded: 2012
Founder: Soraya Bahrami
Location: London

Despite having studied to become a chartered account, Bahrami was “in search of a more holistic lifestyle”.

She said: “The banking lifestyle was a superficial one and I wasn’t who I wanted to be nor had the time to pursue my other interests. On my resignation I incorporated the business, taking my knowledge of trade finance and love of exotic fruit and putting them together to create Toucan Fruit.

“We began sourcing exotics from Mauritius as I was keen to promote my heritage and the wonderful rare fruits that grow on this tropical island. I have travelled the world in search of interesting tastes and fantastic rarities which has cumulated in additional Colombian and Thai ranges. They boast an impressive plethora of health benefits too”

Bahrami reckons that the company’s biggest fruit imports are: graviola, a large green fruit with rumoured anti-cancer properties; cacao fruit, where raw chocolate is derived from; and durian, which is banned in many Asian countries.

“I am definitely looking to bridge the gap between the source countries and the target markets,” she said. “As such, I hope to take a more active role in re-exporting and facilitating trade that has not been possible before. My focus currently is acting as a re-exporter to the Middle Eastern market. I am also in talks with European importers and French wholesalers at Rungis market.

“I will always to continue to source new and exciting produce from forgotten lands and we are even in the process of setting up our own plantations to conserve some of the very rare fruits that are threatened by extinction. Countries of interest are currently Kenya, Ecuador and Dominica.”

Domestically, the company is tackling the catering industry and supermarkets like M&S and Ocado to give recognition to these wonderful fruit and allow them to be accessed easily by the customer.

“The exotics market is still very new and nowhere near maturity but demand and consumption are definitely increasing,” explained Bahrami. “We have seen a keen interest from some of the UK supermarkets which have started to introduce more exotic and rare fruits to test the market and respond to changing consumer tastes.

“In particular they are interested in the different passion fruit varieties that we supply, such as maracuya (passion fruit) and granadilla.

“Harrods has radically changed its produce department to place a greater emphasis on exotics because they know that as people travel more and see these fruits they will increasingly demand them.

“With the heightening health craze we are also seeing demand for exciting and nutritional products and a desire to go back to basics.”

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