Headwind for Dutch pepper abroad

Paul Schockman already has four seasons in the pepper trade at Levarht. He has been working with the trading company, which collaborates closely with Van Nature, for eleven years. Most of the peppers disappear to faraway destinations. Levarht is the largest exporter of peppers towards countries such as Japan and America. But: there is competition for the Dutch product. 'The pepper cultivation has come to standstill.'
From product responsible tomatoes to peppers: it was a big change for Paul Schockman: 'There are more varieties in tomatoes. The pepper assortment is far smaller. Why? Good question. I think it's because the tomato ends up on the table by itself more often. That means that the taste is more important. The pepper is more often cooked with something. This means it loses a bit of its taste anyway.'

This is why Levarhts pepper menu consists mainly of the classics: the bell peppers in red, yellow, orange and green. Paul: 'You can see a reversal, but it's slow. There is a little more demand for specialities. The sweet pointed peppers has been on the rise for years. Just look in the supermarkets: the sweet pointed peppers isn't just a standard in Albert Heijn's assortment, it's in most discounters' assortments as well.'

After a few years of bad prices 2013 stuck out. Now we know that this year isn't a great year so far. 'Last year the growers profited from the dark spring and Spain and Israel being off the market early. Now that there has been a good spring there are a lot of kilos once again. Kilos that find it harder to travel, as Spain and Israel have stayed on the market for longer this year. Paul: 'Years ago the Dutch pepper dominated the market. Now, besides the well known competitors Spain and Israel, you can find German peppers in German supermarkets. I found Finnish peppers in Scandinavia. In America we have competition from Mexico and Canada, where greenhouse cultivation is increasing. There are also products from Morocco and Iran on the wholesale in Russia. It is in the way of our sales.'

Good at organising and managing
Especially because the difference in quality is reducing, he notes. "The growers in Spain can grow a pretty good pepper. The gap with that country is becoming smaller and smaller because we are standing still a bit in the pepper cultivation here. But there are still points on which the Dutch supply wins. I'm talking about the good service, the smart logistics. We are good at organising and managing, so that the product is in the DC (Distribution Centre) the next day. And we play into the various demands the supermarkets make better, such as F2F and Tesco's Nurture.
Our chances are mainly in the development of new sales markets. So we're working hard on that.'

For more information:
Mijnsherenweg 12
1424 CB De Kwakel
Tel: +31 (0)297 38 66 00
Fax: +31 (0)297 38 66 66
Email: info@levarht.com

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