Soft fruit has had a very good year so far across the board, "The retail sector is focusing increasingly on the entire soft fruit category. We are seeing increasing demand for multi-line presentations of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, which are not only offered in the 125 gram pack, but in other package sizes as well," says Ben van der Most. "Although blackberries are still a relatively small category we are seeing huge growth in consumption."
"The Egyptian strawberry season started this year with good prices, followed by the Spanish and Moroccan supply and the Dutch greenhouse strawberries. The production, prices and quality of the summer strawberries were good for both the indoor and outdoor grown strawberries. Next week the Elsanta and Sonato strawberries will experience a peak. Driscoll's had the peak last week with Driscoll's varieties. We are able to extend the season with the ever-bearers in the greenhouse. Elsanta and Sonata prices usually fall in the coming weeks, while our own varieties remain steadfast thanks to our retail programs," says Ben.
The Dutch cultivation of greenhouse grown strawberries has grown to 864 acres, and Driscoll's greenhouse acreage has doubled in three years time, "A good development," says Ben. He continues, "Our greenhouse cultivation produces constant quality and can be found on the market from week 10 until week 48, with no summer break. I expect that greenhouse grown strawberries will continue to see growth. The Spanish and Moroccan supply overlaps with the Dutch greenhouse season from week 12 to week 20, but that worked out well last year with both products finding their way in the market."
Driscoll's blackberry season also went well. Ben says, "The Mexican blackberry season was already doing quite well at the beginning of this year and we tripled our production in Portugal, Belgium and the Dutch greenhouses. We are noticing that our new varieties are providing a new taste experience and I expect this growth in consumption will result in much larger blackberry growing regions in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. Currently there is a shortage of blackberries throughout Europe."
Blueberries and Raspberries
"We also see a lot of potential in blueberries. We have put a great deal of effort into the cultivation in Morocco, Portugal and Spain. The volumes in these countries are still low, but we expect to reap the benefits of our hard work in the coming years," continues Ben. "Raspberry production has also been good this year, with constant volumes and prices."
In addition to investing in our distinctive varieties, we also invest in the entire refrigerated chain. Through our close collaboration with transporters, we guarantee that our products will be delivered at a temperature between 0 and 2 degrees Celsius. We work together with supermarkets to increase the consumption of soft fruit. We follow three strict conditions here: first, the product must arrive fresh and refrigerated, second, the product must look good so that the consumer wants to buy it and third, it must taste good so the consumer comes back for more," summarizes Ben.
"The most growth takes place in Benelux, the Nordic countries and the Middle East. Growth on the British market is relatively constant. We see opportunities to sell soft fruit in mix containers or in cups at gas stations, but our impression is that some markets are not yet ready for this. Therefore we prefer to work on the base first to increase soft fruit consumption. Retailers have indicated that in addition to a premium line, they also have room for a 'value pack' on their shelves.