The firm would also double its European workforce from six members of staff to up to 12, Butler told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Mariani refocused its European and UK operations last year , after opening a warehouse in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, allowing it to supply smaller quantities of products to European businesses. The warehouse is operated by VAT Logistics.
‘Better than we thought’
“We had reasonable expectations about Europe,” said Butler. “But, since launching [the warehouse in Europe] last year, we have done a lot better than we thought.
“We really didn’t believe that we would get to the sorts of sales levels that we have in the last 12 months,” he added.
Butler, who used to run the company’s US operations, said there were no plans to make any further investments in its European operations, outside of functional foods, at the moment.
European food and drinks businesses were increasingly looking to add functionality to existing products, according to Butler. Mariani Europe, which ships hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dried fruit across Europe each year, would respond to this demand with products such as its dried cranberries and blueberries, said Butler.
“Spending time with our customers sets us aside from the competition, it’s our ability to talk to our customers and provide them with a product that works for them,” he added.
Andy Humphries, director of Mariani Europe, said the dried fruit market in the UK and the rest of Europe would expand dramatically in the coming years, driven by demand from consumers for functional foods.
With this in mind, he said Mariani Europe’s UK sales could increase from hundreds of thousands of pounds to multi-millions within the next five to 10 years.
‘One of biggest markets in Europe’
“Although, we try not to break sales down by country, the UK is one of the biggest markets in Europe for dried fruit consumption,” said Humphries.
Mariani Europe is focusing on driving business in the UK and across Europe within the confectionery, cereals, bakery and dairy sectors, by focusing on both artisan and major manufacturing businesses.
Originally, Mariani Europe supplied four core products from its Rotterdam warehouse, but has since expanded its range to 20 within 12 months and “we could have 30 products on the market by 2015”, said Humphries.
Mariani claims to be the largest independently-owned producer and packer of dried fruit in the world.
Mariani in numbers
- 1906: The year the company was founded in the US
- 2013: The year the company opened its European warehouse
- 52: The number of countries Mariani supplies
- 23,000t: The amount of prunes Mariani processes each year
- 320,000t: The amount of cranberries grown in Wisconsin annually, where Mariani has recently trebled its production
- 30,000t: The amount of raisins it processes each year