Ecofroz is one of the finest examples of a joint-venture between a South American and Japanese company. Just one year after it was founded in 1995, the company exported its first batch of high-quality frozen broccoli to Japan. Ecofroz formed the partnership when visiting officers from Saveur, part of the Osaka-based Air Water Group, told Ecofroz CEO Pedro Guarderas that the frozen broccoli had a lucrative market in Japan.
Ecofroz started off with a monthly shipment of one container. Currently, it ships between 40 and 60 containers every month, which last year reached 9,000 tons of the frozen vegetable. Japan accounts for more than half of Ecofroz’s business and projections show that demand for frozen broccoli in Japan will continue to grow.
“At first, we were hesitant to export to Japan as we were aware of their strict quality requirements. If our product does not meet those, they would be rejected. But, based on our current numbers, we do not regret engaging with the Japanese. We are also the only company in Ecuador that purchases Japanese-made broccoli washers,” Guarderas said.
Three factors make Ecofroz broccolis successful: Ecuador’s natural environment, investments in the latest machinery and hard work to control quality.
“Our broccolis are grown 3,000 meters above sea level and all-year round. Customers say they taste sweeter,” Guarderas also said.
Through the partnership, Ecofroz has learned and adopted beneficial aspects of Japanese business culture. Efficiency and productivity have improved, while written procedures and protocols are now standard operating procedure. These have resulted in higher customer satisfaction and larger profits.
Ecofroz broccoli has since found its way to school cafeterias, as well as high-end hotels and restaurants. In growing its business, Ecofroz is strengthening its own-brand label in hopes to double sales by 2023 and thereafter to develop other Ecuadorian agricultural products.