Fruit World's Bianca Kaprielian and CJ Buxman Share Operational Growth Insights
- by Anne Allen
REEDLEY, CA - Approaching its five-year anniversary, Fruit World has a lot to celebrate. From sustainable farming practices to bold branding, the company has taken the best practices of our industry and crafted them into a fresh face with a new approach to business.
“As a small company, we are able to offer a highly personal touch,” shares Bianca Kaprielian, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “We invest in relationships and really try to drive home that there are people behind every piece of Fruit World produce. While we do put in our fair share of desk time, it’s important to us that we’re spending plenty of time out on the ranches, getting our boots dirty and our hands on the fruit.”
When the company was founded, Bianca Kaprielian and CJ Buxman, Co-Founder and Organic Citrus Grower, had a goal to ensure their families' farms would be sustained into future generations. They’ve done this and committed to more. Fruit World is proud to partner with other family growers that share its passion and values.
“We’ve been able to grow due to our successful relationships with our customers and growers. We’re so lucky to have such an awesome community!” says Bianca.
CJ adds, “Being farmers ourselves really grounds us in the work we do and the produce we stand behind. It’s key to our success.”
Another piece of the puzzle is Fruit World’s commitment to sustainable farming practices and its deep commitment to a legacy of environmental health and a stewardship of the land.
“This is reflected in our current volume at over 80 percent organic to less than 20 percent conventional (and transitional), our conversion of acreage to organic, and our commitment to utilize recyclable and compostable packaging,” Bianca notes. “Not only have we moved to paper totes and no longer carry plastic pouches for grapes, but we’ve also replaced plastic clamshells with cardboard pundits for our stonefruit and moved to a fully recyclable mesh bag for our Mandarins. And we’re always looking for ways to improve!”
That bold, fun packaging is just part of the reason that the end consumer is after Fruit World’s produce. The company thinks of organics as a way of living—and we all know how important that is to getting a product to the basket.
“To us, organic is a philosophy and values system. We believe that growing organic produce benefits ourselves, our families, and our world, making the environment a healthier place for our generation and future generations to come,” shares Bianca.
CJ adds, “Being an organic farmer means we have to watch the field closely to stay on top of pests and plant nutrition, keeping the tree’s health and the soil in balance. We team up with leading pest and nutrition experts in the field to ensure healthy and strong trees, which means healthier and, we believe, tastier fruit. We use natural fertilizers like fish, seaweed, and compost to keep the trees strong and healthy. With basic elemental organically approved pesticides, beneficial insects like ladybugs, and a lot of attention and love, we create the best organic habitat for our trees.”
As we shift our conversation toward the personal, I ask Bianca and CJ what this anniversary means to each of them.
“When CJ and I started Fruit World, we wholeheartedly believed in our mission of creating a sustainable future for family farms like our own, and figuring out how to do things differently—how to stand out. We had no idea how the industry would respond,” Bianca reflects. “Five years later, it feels pretty amazing to look back on the success we’ve had. What a great feeling that our mission is supported by all our friends in the industry. Knowing that we’ve gotten this far gives us the confidence to continue to try new things and push the envelope as we move forward. We are deeply thankful for all the support from our community that got us to this place.”
CJ echoes this sentiment in his own take on the anniversary.
“For the last five years, I’ve been blessed to work with the most amazing people—from Bianca and our team, to our growers and our customers. That is what is most meaningful to me as we come up to our five-year anniversary. We are still working with the first grower we’ve ever worked with, and we are still doing business with the very first customer we ever had. I’m excited to be progressing the organic world forward,” he comments.
Looking ahead, Fruit World has a lot to be excited about. As Bianca shares with me, the company is in it for the long haul.
“In addition to increasing acreage for our organic Mandarin and orange programs, we’ve been expanding our organic specialty citrus offerings to include different types of citrus-quats, lemonade lemons, buddha’s hand, and others. We’re so excited for those to hit the market in two to three years,” she says. "We are also growing a specialty grape program—with seedless Muscats coming on, more Kyohos, and we’re planting other specialty, heritage varieties, too. We’re always looking for and trying out heirloom varieties and crosses that are super flavorful and delicious but may not currently be available in the marketplace.”
We’ll continue to track what’s next from Fruit World, and you can bet it will be epic. Congratulations to the Fruit World team on five years! We here at AndNowUKnow can’t wait to see what you do next.