The new Mexican produce branding entity Eleven Rivers is gearing up for the
launch of product, which it expects to occur in early January.
Brand representative Fernando Mariscal said the operation will not be rushed
into branding product before it makes sense so that start date could be fluid.
Eleven Rivers is a new branding concept that was launched during the
Produce Marketing Association convention in Florida in October.
Mr. Mariscal said the concept behind the idea is to create an additional brand,
or mark, on Mexican fruits and vegetables that identifies it as reaching a
higher standard of excellence with regard to quality and food safety.
He said the idea dates back a couple of years when virtually all vegetable
grower-shippers in Sinaloa, Mexico, began assessing themselves a per
package fee, through their local association, CAADES, for the purpose of
improving their food-safety standards. Mr. Mariscal said Eleven Rivers is a
private business venture, but it is being launched in concert with CAADES, and
initially using the funds that were collected by that association.
"The growers know that even though they all paid into the fund, initially the
brand will only be used by the very best groups," he said.
Mr. Mariscal said Eleven Rivers is currently working with many different
grower-shipper groups in Sinaloa to qualify them for the use of the brand.
“Right now we have three levels of participation. There are about 20 groups
that we are closely working with and about 18 of them are operating at a level
where they would achieve certification. A couple of others are moving in that
direction. And then we have many others who want to be involved, but they
are not at the level that will allow them to be certified.”
The Eleven Rivers representative explained that the organization is currently
working with both U.S. and Mexican officials to create some type of official
certification program that recognizes the increased quality and food-safety
standards that the “Eleven Rivers” brand will denote. He said Mexican officials
are poised to cooperate, but the discussions with U.S. officials are ongoing.
Mr. Mariscal said that the goal of Eleven Rivers is to have exclusive use of the
official certification designation for at least one year. After that, Eleven Rivers
has proposed that the certification could be expanded to other groups not
affiliated with the organization. Initially, he said that the exclusivity would
give Eleven Rivers a marketing advantage, which he believes is justified
because it is the trailblazers of this concept. He also admitted that securing
exclusivity is a difficult task. But just as quickly, Mr. Mariscal said independent
certification of the standards that “Eleven Rivers” product is adhering to is key
to the success of the program, and the brand will not be launched until this is
As a practical matter, the Eleven Rivers brand label is an additional
designation that will be put on the carton next to the firm's current trade
label. “Eleven Rivers” is a brand and a marketing concept not a sales
organization. The product itself will continue to be sold and shipped through
its regular channels. “This is very important,” said Mr. Mariscal.
He added that the U.S.-based distributors in Nogales, AZ, as well as California
and Texas, will continue to play the same role they play today. “We are not
changing the structure of the industry,” he said. “We are committed to using
the same distribution system that is currently in place. That’s not going to
Once the program gets underway, Mr. Mariscal said that about 15-22 percent
of the Mexican product sold in the United States will carry the “Eleven Rivers”
designation. Over time, he anticipates that volume growing and being
extended to other areas. To be successful, he believes it needs to be a year-
round program. Again, he said the Sinaloa grower-shippers who have paid
for the launch of this understand that it will have to be expanded to other
areas. As an ongoing venture, Mr. Mariscal said there will be fees associated
with using the “Eleven Rivers” label but he did not want to get involved in that
aspect of the program at the current time. “We don’t have to worry about that
right now. We have the funds to launch this program and we have hired four
U.S. agencies. The people in Sinaloa know that they have all funded this, but
in the beginning, very few will take the first step.”