Veronique Sallin, co-founder of the citrus production and sales company, IMG Citrus, recognized
e-Toile: Hello Veronique Sallin. After a brilliant academic career in France, you opted to undergo the American experience with a particular predilection preference for the French-American economic relations.
In your opinion, what has changed the most in terms of the export-import relations between France and the United States over the past 30 years?
Véronique Sallin: 30 years ago, the export of grapefruit in Florida was in its infancy, with only two major exporters and confidential volumes.
During the past thirty years, we have experienced an opening of Florida to exportation, the recognition of the importance of external markets and the opportunities lying outside the United States.
The structure of the import and export market has become progressively more direct, with fewer intermediaries (brokers, agents, importers). IMG Citrus was in fact the first Floridian organization to work directly with French supermarkets in 1984, which was a challenge because we had to deliver products that were “ready to sell”, not reconditioned on the market.
This necessitated that we improve the proficiency of our conservation chain so that our products could sustain the 15 day boat transit necessary to cross the Atlantic.
e-Toile: You first worked in New York and California. Why did you decide to finally settle permanently in Orlando?
Véronique Sallin: New York was our first step.
My husband had been transferred by Daval, the French Steel Company, where he worked in international finance.
After one or two specific business trips for the family company established in Normandy, my husband was interested in growing citrus fruit in Florida. Perhaps family atavism? From Norman agriculture of apples, cider and juice to citric crops in Florida……it’s not a great leap!
Deciding to live in Florida (sun, tropics) was not very difficult, especially after California, it brought us closer to France!
e-Toile: The company that you created with your husband in 1982, IMG Citrus now exports over 20,000 tons of fresh grapefruit, 7,000 tons of which are bound for France. This is a fine example of French success in the United States. What advice would you give to those wishing to follow in your footsteps?
Remain faithful to your values and principles.
Develop unique strategies that differentiate your products and services.
Listen to your customers and markets.
Manage financial and business risks.
Things do not always go as planned and you have to have reserves and options to deal with these setbacks. Our history taught us that, what with the frosts, hurricanes, citrus diseases, economic recessions, changes in import policies, changes in exchange rates, etc ....
Be diversified: Diversification is one way to mitigate the risks inherent in agriculture. In addition to our business as a producer and marketer of citrus (Citrus IMG, Inc..), we also own a production company of ornamental trees (Cherry Lake Tree Farm, Inc.), a landscape installation company (Legacyscapes ), and we are involved in "Mitigation Banking" (Legacy Wilderness Preserve), as well as in property development (IMG Enterprise, Inc. DRI).