Dutch fruit and vegetable wholesaler, Aartsen, has had a wide range of high-quality Moroccan products under its Smile house brand since 2011. Last year, the label was upgraded. It now has a sleek look. "We also keep looking to expand with new products under this mark. For example, last week we got the first blueberries under the Smile brand in the Netherlands. Our branch in Hong Kong already offers blueberries under this label. But, it is a first for the Netherlands," says the company's Commercial Director, Aart Bezemer.
Aart Bezemer, showing off the first Dutch Smile blueberries.
The Moroccan 'Smile' vegetable season is also progressing well, according to him. "We get products such as tomatoes, courgettes, bell peppers, string beans, and broad beans. All under the Smile label. In Spain, there were shortages now and then. These were caused by extreme weather. We were able to absorb these well with products from Morocco. This has resulted in somewhat higher prices than last year too."
"We are certainly experiencing the advantage of a strong brand. We are also investing significantly in it. This label makes it easier for clients to find our Moroccan products again." According to Aart, Moroccan cultivation has generally caught up well in recent years. "We are increasingly using trucks for our logistics. These go directly from the loading point to our warehouse. This is being organized more and more tightly. That means Morocco is no longer inferior to Southern European countries."
"We also offer a selective Citrus assortment under this mark. For this, we only package fruit from the best regions under the Smile brand. So, clementines from Berkane and Nadorcotts from Marrakesh. The Berkane mandarin season has since ended. There were fewer of these fruits this year. But, that made for better prices. Regarding quality, we also stopped on time. We are now getting an ample supply of Nadorcott mandarins from Marrakesh."
"We are actively looking to expand this Smile range further. Eventually, we want to offer an as-strong-as-possible assortment under this top label. That does not, however, always means these have to be major products. For example, we have a Moroccan grape partner. He packages his product under the Smile mark. It is not a high-volume item and is only available for a short window of time. But, with this product, we can, after all, offer clients something different," concludes Aart.