From Seed to Sale | An International Company You Can Trust

From Seed to Sale | An International Company You Can Trust

The international fresh fruit and vegetable market is growing steadily. According to statistics, only the global fruit trade has grown by as much as an average of 40% over the last ten years. The transportation of fresh fruit and vegetables requires thoroughness and unique conditions. This is always ensured by Rush Group who has 43 years of experience in producing and distributing fruit and vegetables. Rush’s cutting-edge technology guarantees that all fruit and vegetables are delivered exactly as ordered. Founded in the United Kingdom, Rush group operates in dozens of countries and seven global regions. One of them is the Middle East, where the company is operated by Georgian Tamara Machavariani. Forbes Georgia interviewed Tamara about the company’s plans in Georgia.

Tamara, to begin with, tell us about the business model of Rush Group?

First, it is important to mention that in the UAE, Rush Global FZCO specializes in the distribution of fresh foodstuff to multiple channels including retail, wholesale, food service and HORECA. But on a group level, Rush operates in business areas such as growing produce, trading and distribution. We are able to run a fast-growing business through our growing number of employees, large storage facilities and several trucks that enable us to reach and serve our client base as quickly and as effectively as possible. I believe that Rush Group’s ability to supply clients with a continual supply of fresh produce throughout the year is the main reason for companies and individuals choosing Rush. We are a reliable source of fruit and vegetables
on a global level, all year round.

Tell us about the company’s main figures. Revenue, number of customers, and number of fruit and vegetables produced.

Rush Group UK and its subsidiaries in Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Malaysia and the UAE, trade with over 200 companies globally. Our wholesale market overseas includes Rotterdam, Warsaw, and Budapest, which are separate to our local markets in the UAE and the UK. We offer our customers a wide variety of fruit and vegetables with over 100+ items that generate an annual turnover of £45 million ($62 million). The numbers are quite impressive, but we are not going to stop, we are a growing company.

You have started to cooperate with the Georgian company „Geo Agro Export“ to export fruit and vegetables from Georgia to the Middle East and Gulf region. What are your plans in this regard?

Our main goal is to increase the market share of Georgian products within the UAE and GCC region by reaching out to more growers that can provide us with quality produce at competitive prices. We believe that the Georgian agricultural market has a lot of untapped potential that we can explore.

What can Rush Group offer to Georgian producers?

With many years of experience both in the UAE and on an international scale, Rush can offer producers great insights with regards to market-specific requirements in areas such as quality, packaging, and specifications. We are also keen on helping growers attain updated knowledge in industry practices and legal outlook through trainings and seminars.

If Georgian producers wish to export their fruit and vegetable to European markets, they need to meet European standards. How hard is it to meet Middle Eastern and Gulf standards?

The UAE and other GCC countries pride themselves in being up-and-coming hotspots for attracting visitors and many investors, which reflects in the quality of services being delivered in all business sectors. This directly impacts the quality that we are expected to deliver in terms of our products being distributed in the local and regional market. Growers will have to follow strict procedures to meet the region’s import requirements as well as product quality and packaging. Nevertheless, the region offers an attractive business environment in terms of legal protection, international trading standard compliance, and logistical convenience. Products can enter the region either by road, sea or air transport.

What products might be in demand in these regions? What can Georgian producers focus on?

As the region does not meet the natural criteria to grow its own produce in volume due to weather, landscape and resources, the UAE and GCC require a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables to be imported to meet the demands of its consumers.

Some of the most in-demand items in the region includes varieties of apples, citruses, potatoes and onions among many others. Rush Global is keen on collaborating with Georgian producers in order to help them grow products that will meet EMEA area requirements as we have experienced agronomists in our group.

Supply chains suffered, transportation and export-import was delayed in a number of countries because of the global pandemic. How has the crisis affected your company?

The entire sector has suffered due to delayed shipments as a result of travel restrictions and closed borders. Regulations kept changing on a regular basis at the peak of the pandemic, which required us to adapt very quickly. At this time, we decided that we needed to have a larger office and more manpower to operate efficiently. In June 2020, we opened our new facility in the Fresh Market in Ras Al Khor and employed more people to sustain our increasing operation. Despite the pandemic, the company was able to open more customer accounts in the retail channel and we can say that we
have prospered during this time.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get to be in Dubai and start working for Rush Group?

I came to Dubai in 2011 as a tourist. The moment I arrived; I knew I never wanted to go back after considering all the opportunities this city could bring to my career. The UAE opens a lot of doors for expats and I believe I came at the right time. There were a lot of ups and downs, but I got lucky and took all the chances that came my way. There were a lot of failures that I learned from, which in turn fueled my passion and ambition to succeed.

In 2015, I made a career move that would define my place in the market. I joined one of the country’s biggest names in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, which boosted my experience and knowledge in the field. I managed to meet a lot of international suppliers from all corners of the globe by attending major industry exhibitions both locally and overseas.

As I grew into my profession, I joined Rush Global FZCO in 2018 as a trader without a physical office or any staff in Dubai. I started building the company from scratch with the help of Rush Group, and that brought us to our present standing.

As the COO of Rush Group in Dubai and the Middle East, what challenges do you see in the global supply of fresh produce?

In my experience, I believe that one of the challenges we may face going forward is the ever-growing volume of demand. At the same time, there are many growers around the world that make the field extremely competitive and it impacts the market. There are also many products that can become over supplied, which can dramatically affect the profitability of many businesses.

Many say that Georgia is the crossroad from Europe to Asia and from north to south. What steps should we take to use the opportunities we have because of our geographic location?

Georgia is strategically located in a competitive geographic location, which increases its competitiveness with its European and Asian counterparts in terms of agriculture. I believe that the government should focus on creating opportunities for local producers, such as incentivizing this industry to help local businesses, which will create more jobs for Georgians whilst also increasing GDP.

An area that Georgia can focus on is its infrastructure – roads, ports, and irrigation systems – all of which will help businesses to expand and attract investors.

The local government can also support the expansion of existing businesses by collaborating to create a workable ecosystem that allows for resources to be made available; including post-harvest handling technologies, grading and sorting machinery, packing facilities and temperature controlled cold stores or warehouses.

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