Consulting consumers helped boost sales of English Village Salads’ tomatoes in Asda stores throughout the country by £8m last year, according to the North Yorkshire fresh produce supplier.
In a survey, Asda customers expressed their desire to trade up to a premium variety, resulting in EVS supplying Asda with both Piccolo cherry tomatoes on the vine and Sweet Plum tomatoes for its Extra Special range.
Owned by Geest, EVS has supplied Asda for many years. Tomatoes are its core product, representing 50% of its output, but it was chosen to manage the wholehead salad category for Asda three years ago.
This was a move that EVS sales and procurement manager Mark Thompson says transformed the company.
“At the time we were supporting five or six high street names, but our business growth was such with Asda that we decided to align ourselves to them and develop a great relationship.
“Our growth has seen us move in the past five years from about £40m of business with Asda to £140m. It has been mutually challenging, but culturally we were well aligned and it worked well. They are very supportive of English produce, more so than other retailers we’ve worked with.”
Launched in 1991, out of three companies acquired by Geest, EVS now has links with 30 growers around the UK. From its Selby base it supplies 50 skus from ten direct distribution points.
Innovation is key, says Thompson. “We had six lines in Extra Special last year and we want to extend that next year with variations on those lines.
“But we always talk to consumers. It’s not about what we want or what Asda wants; it’s what the consumer wants.”
Greg Meenehan