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Grown in Holland, these Asian vegetables can found all over Europe

Although product names such as Am choi, ong choi, hing choi and poi choi still make many people furrow their brow, a growing number of Dutch people are trying Asian vegetables. “People go on holiday, and want to try that food here as well,” says Leo Visser, who manages Visser Asian Crop with his son Cees and daughter Danielle in Velden, near Limburg, the Netherlands.

Cees and Danielle in front of their new flowpack machine

Cees has been active in the company for several years already, and Danielle entered into the family company last year. In a separate development, the company invested in a flowpack machine in order to offer these Asian vegetables ready-packaged, mostly in mixed packaging such as a wok vegetable pack. “The Shanghai Bok Choi has been our largest product for years already, but the miniature version is also very popular. We have very diverse customers, from Asian supermarkets and shops all over Europe to Dutch wholesalers and exporters,” Cees explains.

The largest target audience is still the Asian shops, although Cees says these have been significantly developed already. “The shops are becoming a bit like supermarkets. Scandinavia, Germany, France and the UK are our main markets. This does not make us competitors of the domestic exporters we supply, because they almost never supply directly to the shops. It is more difficult to insure shops, for example,” Cees says. “The biggest growth is in the north, and we have expanded significantly in Germany in recent years as well. Our strength is working with transporters who deliver the entire package to the shop door..”

“Besides the Asian vegetables we cultivate ourselves, we also have a large supply of exotics. We do not import these ourselves, but we use specialised importers. These are true service products for our customers,” Cees explains. “We cooperate with a Spanish organisation, who supplies us with Asian vegetables in winter. We are compelled to use them, because we cannot produce the desired volumes in winter. We made good arrangements for this cooperation, so that we can guarantee our desired quality.”

Recently at Visser Asian Crop, 180 people came for dinner at the invitation of customer HelloFresh. “We had a wonderful day. A chef was cooking outside using our Asian vegetables, and between each course, we visited the greenhouses. Two weeks later our vegetables were in the HelloFresh boxes, and we supplied at least 12,000 kilograms that week. Subsequently, we can tell, interest has been aroused by that,” says Danielle.

Danielle Visser

When asked whether any new chois will enter the assortment’s list, Leo smiles: “We always experiment when cultivating, and like to be pioneers. Sometimes we have a direct hit, and sometimes we have nothing at all. For example, in recent years we had some plants with small peppers. We definitely had demand for those, but picking them took forever. Plenty can be found online, and there is also plenty left to experiment with ourselves.”

The Visser family do not call themselves traders, but horticulturalists with own sales. They are facing the future with confidence. “Sales of Asian vegetables continue to increase. A challenge we are facing, for example, is to put the opportunities Asian vegetables provide even more in the limelight, because these applications are endless. And thanks to our flowpack machine we can supply them in any mixed packing the customer desires.”

Cees, Leo and Danielle

For more information:
Cees Visser
Asian Crop BV
Ebberstraat 12
5941 NN Velden
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)6 128 002 18
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