Five years ago Richard Soepenberg relocated from the Netherlands to Spain to become the commercial manager at Frunet. Six months later he was in the news when a German senator blamed Frunet for the outbreak of EHEC from organic cucumbers. Last week the court ruled that the city of Hamburg, Germany must compensate the Spanish producer, "Justice finally after 4.5 years, although we are still waiting for the amount and the terms of the payment," says Richard.
Richard SoepenbergIs organic becoming too popular?
There is a massive switch going on in Spain from conventional food products to organic, "40-50% more organic products have been planted this year, that is huge. We are growing our organic produce at the same rate as the rest of the country. We are forced to grow more organic by the increasing demand from our customers. If we don't do that then some customers will take too much of our sales and we don't want that," says Richard. "Of course I am happy with the increasing demand for organic products, but I am also afraid that it is happening too fast. Right now that is not the case, but if we have too much organic then the prices between conventional products and organic will be too close together."
Frunet supplies an entirely organic greenhouse vegetable package, in which cherry tomatoes are by far the most important. Their customers are mainly export markets, Scandinavia, Germany, France and the Netherlands are the most important sales markets for the organic products. Frunet has 24 acres of land in Malaga, Spain and also works closely with forty growers in Almeria, Spain, where the sales of the complete package are taken care of.
The Spanish organic greenhouse vegetable season has started with high prices, "The season started a bit late which fit nicely with the Dutch season. Over the coming weeks there will be a great deal of their products entering the market, but the demand is there. There are some products in which the demand is so high that we cannot meet it," continues Richard. "Last year in October the price for organic cherry tomatoes was around 1.30 euros per kilo, now they are 1.90 euros. Vine tomatoes are also expensive and there are not enough zucchinis. But there is an exception, cucumbers, which are dirt cheap!"
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Tel: + 34 952 52 75 10
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Fax.: + 34 952 52 75 11
Ctra. De Algarrobo Km. 2,5
29750 - Algarrobo. MALAGA Richard@frunet.net