Arome Transilvane started from the need of berries producers to associate in a structure which can bring them benefits regarding promoting their products and easier access to the market. By being part of a cooperative the producers benefit from better prices for their products and can handle plantations, development, and expansion because somebody else is responsible for sales and disposal of the products. With the help of a cooperative, the producers can access profitable partnerships with stores, bakeries, pastry shops, labs, and restaurants. At the end of 2018, berries producers from GAL Someș Transilvan territory created a cooperative with the support of the National Programme of Rural Development. The nine producers from this organization have plantations of berries in Lujerdiu, Borșa, Sic, and Vișea.
Because we are close to Arome Transilvane and its development, we’ve talked with Anna Șargov, Civitas Foundation project manager about the model of operation, the products commercialized by the cooperative and promotion used to engage consumers.
What differentiates Arome Transilvane from another local producer of berries?
The most important thing is represented by a wide variety of berries. Our producers sell blueberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, goji, chokeberries, cranberries, blackberries, and seabuckthorn. There is no similar initiative on the market. We talk about the story behind the fruits. We follow a transparent trajectory of our products and we make our producers visible by organizing events at their plantations. We want to make enhance the exposure of the origins of the products and the producers because we want the consumer trust us – we create a proper context for a deep connection between producers and consumers.
What is the model of operation behind the agricultural cooperative?
The cooperative has founding members, a board of directors, a chairman, and a manager. Everybody’s role is clearly defined and the producers became more comfortable with such a form of organization which brings them benefits and development opportunities.
What do you rely on when you promote the Arome Transilvane products?
We pinpoint the freshness and the source of the products. The producers provide added value because they are passionate and concerned to deliver the best quality products for the consumers. We are really proud of the success of our members. For example, the Delicium raspberry syrup is the first Romanian international certified syrup – which makes us the first cooperative from Romania with a member who owns an international certified product. These successes help us promote our products because we can show the world the appreciation we receive. Is a lot of work behind, but these good achievements make our producers move on. Is a validation which gives them trust to pursue doing what they do best.
How do you promote your products?
We have several channels we are successfully using, online and offline. We have a Facebook page around which we create a community of people interested in local products, especially berries. We keep them informed with the latest news from the fruits season, we invite them at food tasting, picnics or other meetings which we organize.
We participate at different events whenever we have the opportunity because we appreciate the direct contact with our consumers. In June and July, we attended Elementum Festival, Produs de Cluj, Vine satul la oraș and Bonțida fair from Electric Castle where we made new partnerships and grew up the community. In return, we organize events at our producers because we want to improve their relationship with the consumers and because we want to offer local experiences with tasting, plantation tours, stories, and local products.
How can we convince someone to buy fresh products from local producers instead of the supermarket? After all, the groceries from the supermarket represent a faster choice for the consumer who does not want to spend so much time at shopping.
The freshness of these products is an important factor when we promote our products. We give consumers the opportunity to buy berries from the plantations of the local producers – they can meet them and they can collect fresh fruits themselves. Is not easy because the competition is higher, but we are glad to see that more people buy and consume local products.
What are the most wanted fruits in this period and which is the prognosis for the next few months?
The blueberries and the raspberries are in most demand in this period. We expect that blackberries became a product equally searched because of its antioxidants. Overall, all sorts of berries are a success and we will have fruits available until October. The next few months after selling the fresh products, we plan the new season, draw conclusions and talk about the lessons we have learned. We also want to promote processed products and increase the active periods of selling.