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2.2.3. Baron’s strawberry May 2009

Short Schedule Farm description Start point/Challange

Farm/Company

Name: Kmetija Čufank Web site: http://www.jagode.si E-mail: baronove@jagode.si

Place

Country: Slovenija Region: Gorenjska City: Begunje

Product Type

STRAWBERRIES

Reference year

1994

Successful elements Output/Effects

Key Words

Why is the topic interesting?

Direct sales – Promotion – Marketing communications Added value – Environmental responsibility – High quality - Internet

From the policeman to the growing expert – from the total lack of knowledge of the growing technology and marketing to the naturefriendly growing and recognisable trade mark “Barons’ Strawberries”.

Farm Description

Farm Logo Baron's strawberry – taste the difference

Plantation under wings of

P

Karavanken Mountains

The Čufank Farm is located in the pleasant village of Zgoša 2 km from Begunje, Gorenjska. Maks Vrečko and his family have been growing strawberries on 1.5 ha of land for already 15 years now. He markets them under the brand name “The Baron’s Strawberries” because they grow in close proximity of the castle Drnča in which Baron Baillou had resided until 1945 and the region is known as “a the Baron's place" still today. The Baron garden strawberries grow 600 m above sea level, just below the Begunjščica River. Nights are cold and the days are warm – the ideal climate for strawberries. The exchange of warm and cold air creates a harmony in the taste, which occurs in the ratio between the acids and sugars in the fruit. "The Barons' Strawberries" grow on open fields and are grown using a naturefriendly technology. The production of healthy food and environmental protection is a life mission of the owner Maks. Therefore, the farm is included in the Slovenian Integrated Fruit Production – SIPS, which allows the use of certain preparations in prescribed doses, less hazardous for people and environment, only where there are no other alternatives. In the growing process, they use “solarisation”, shading of strawberries and the Hydronic device, used for the irrigation. The irrigation with the “revived” or informed water diminishes disease and increases the quality and quantity of the harvest. The farm follows the rule "picked in the morning, given away by the evening”. Thereby, their strawberries are always fresh. Due to the natural production, use of the black foil and straw, there is no need to wash the strawberries before use. 1/5


Baron’s strawberry May 2009

Start Point Farm description Start point/Challange Successful elements Output/Effects

Foil and straw for protection of fruits

Purpose of the web site: - trademark’s promotion; - sales promotion – to reach customers, who are far distant from the farm; - the web site must be alive, it must be updated on a regular basis;

The beginning of strawberry growing on the farm Pr’Čufank goes back to 1994, when they test-planted 5000 strawberry plants. Due to the lack of experience in the strawberry planting and growing, the first year was extremely difficult. Strawberries were planted too late and improperly. As a result, in the first year they produced 2,715 kg of strawberries and had 4,185 EUR of profit. Each year they planted more strawberries and year-by-year introduced new, environment-friendly technologies. In the fifth year of production, they planted 35,000 plants and had 26,600 EUR of profit. Because business must not depend on chance, they also devoted their attention to the marketing. In 1998, they introduced a novelty for the buyers – self-picking. For a lower price, each buyer could pick his own strawberries. Since they received a very positive response from the buyers, they kept this method.

Children in the strawberry field

Newspaper – Baron’s News

In 1999, the first issue of “Barons’ News” came out. In the newspaper readers could find instructions for the home-growing of strawberries, anecdotes on stealing fruits from the farm, interesting facts about strawberries, recipes and prize-poll. The introduction of the newspaper improved the communication with existing buyers, to whom the larger story about Barons’ Strawberries could be presented. The primary role of the newspaper was increasing loyalty of regular customers and spreading the good word to others. The year 2000 was the year of novelties for the farm. The sale outlet was moved to the farm, they started the action of returning baskets, organized the "Club of Barons’ Strawberries’ Lovers, which offered their members a free subscription to the newspaper. For the first time the “Day of Barons’ Strawberries” was organized.

Art exhibition – children from a local school. Photography competition.

Challenge The goal of Maks Vrečko is to harvest the best strawberries in Slovenia and make certain that customers are fully satisfied.

- to include recipes, events, actions, prizeactions;

At the beginning of their harvesting endeavours the Vrečko family did not succeed in selling their entire yield in spite of a well formulated objective. This is why they seriously devoted themselves to marketing. They tried different “marketing tactics” and they looked for ideas in books, magazines, newspapers, on the internet at different lectures and with the competition.

- create two-way communication;

They are aware that a healthy lifestyle and the importance of the demand for healthy food is increasing.

- follow the statistics to find out what buyers are interested in.

2/5


Baron’s strawberry May 2009

Success elements Farm description Start point/Challange Successful elements Output/Effects

The trademark should: 

mention the product’s benefits,

express the product’s characteristics,

the name should be simple, short and original

Harvesting technology, promotion and marketing are all oriented towards the customers needs in acquiring information in addition to the strawberries, which are top quality. Even more – they also get strawberry products and plants so they can harvest these tasty strawberries at home. Maks Vrečko believes that the constant improvement of sales methods and taking advantage of the opportunities on the internet are very important for saling farming products. The introduction of Internet, as means of communication, was extremely important, since the circle of clients that included approx. 30 km radius prior to introduction, was broadened to the whole Slovenian territory. For quality strawberries, some buyers are prepared to drive us much as 200 km in one direction. He markets his strawberries under the brand name "The Barron's Strawberries" with the slogan “Taste the Difference”. He grows strawberries with a passion and follows his aim. He is striving to grow his produce with as much quality as possible. He is always up to date, knows what is happening with the competition and takes care of relations with regular customers (sends them his newspaper, notices, etc.). He is friendly toward his customers and lives by the motto "the customer is always right". The point of sale is adequately equipped and labelled. He offers a taste test free of charge. In addition to the produce, he also offers his products to customers, offers recipes for the use of strawberries, organizes guided tours of the plantation with a strawberry taste test and allows customers to pick their own strawberries at a lower price. He sells “The Barron’s Strawberries” directly to customers, always advertises, uses different types of media for promotion and has a catchy website that is always up to date.

STRENGHTS – GOOD MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION WITH THE CUSTOMERS

o

Interesting logo and brand name

o

Catchy web site

o

Public relations (Barons’ News publication, Day of Barons’ Strawberries, interaction with the local primary school and tourist agency),

o

Good sales promotion (photography competition, prize competitions, art exhibition, Club of Barons’ Strawberries)

o

Direct marketing (addressed mail).

3/5


Baron’s strawberry May 2009

Table 1: Chronology of the farm

Production technology

Lack of knowledge

5.000 plants

Communicati on with customers

Environmentally friendly production

35.000 plants

solarisation

Baron's newspaper300 issues

* "Club of Barons’ Strawberries’ Lovers, * Day of Barons’ Strawberries, * new sales point, * Art exhibition

Baron's newspaper1200 issues

marmalades

2001

2002

Production year

1994

1999

2000

Year

1 year

5. year

year of novelties

testing of Hydronic device

Irrigation with live water, 45.000 plants, 17 tones

shading

* web site, * photographic competition

2003

2004

2005

10. year

Graph 1: Income with regards to year of production

70.000 60.000 50.000 40.000 Income in EUR 30.000 20.000 10.000 0 1. year

5. year

10. year

15. year

EX ERCISES -

Why is it essential to communicate with your environment constantly? Possible means of communication with target groups? Consider, which are the tools of market communication used by the owner of the Barons’ Strawberries plantation? How to broaden the supply – target groups, products? In what way can you communicate with existing buyers? What does the trademark represent and mean to the buyer? What does the trademark do for the holder thereof?

4/5

2006


Baron’s strawberry May 2009

Output/Effects Farm description Start point/Challange Successful elements Output/Effects

The result of Vrečko's efforts is obvious: Today, ten times more strawberries are easily sold then at that time. Due to direct sales, their standard of living is good regarding the growing of strawberries on 1.5 ha, which is an exceptionally small surface for farming. He described his experience with marketing and the experience of some other farmers who successfully market their produce and products in Slovenia in a book called "Iz prakse v prakso": How to successfully market on the farm. He wrote the book so that he could help farmers and others in marketing the yield and as a result improve life on a farm. One of the references from the book states: “Do the things that make us happy. If we do our job with a passion people will feel our energy, our positive orientation and dedication to our work when they talk to us.” He also follows this rule himself – whether it is growing strawberries, breeding ostriches or biologically improving the quality of water, which Maks Vrečko will do in the future. The main reason that the Barons’ Strawberries trademark and the growing technology was sold to the new owner in 2009, is that Maks achieved everything that he ever dreamed of and more with his production of strawberries. He now found a new challenge, a new story that he builds from the beginning yet again. He says that only with constant new challenges, one can achieve continuous personal growth.

CASE STUDY END…

...an end is always a new start...

Further investigations A book written by Maks Vrečko – Iz prakse za prakso: Kako uspešno tržiti na kmetiji, Kmečki glas 2006. http://www.mkgp.gov.si/si/o_ministrstvu/direktorati/direktorat_za_kmetijstvo/star asektor_za_sonaravno_kmetijstvo/oddelek_za_kmetijstvo_in_okolje/kmetijsko_oko ljska_placila/integrirana_pridelava/integrirana_pridelava_dejstva_in_podatki/ Maks Vrečko new project - Live water: http://www.4vivus.com/

CONCLUSION Farm is a good example of innovative technology and good marketing. They have created brand name, which become over the years very recognizable. Good two-way communication with the customers allows that all their products are sold on the 5/5


ENG_2.2.3._Case study Strawberries.pdf