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Netherlands: Fear causes the sales of niche products to drop by eighty percent

Before the Dutch government's corona press conference on the 13th of October, the amount of orders at PUURgroenten had been declining steadily for past weeks. With a decrease of as much as eighty percent recently, grower Han Lammers notices. He says it’s due to the fear that people currently feel.

Anna Koster (writer ‘Bloemen met smaak’), Han Lammers, Janny van der Heijden (Heel Holland Bakt) and Saskia Lammers during a visit of the camera crew of ‘Heel Holland Bakt’ (Dutch version of 'The Great British Bake-off') this spring.

The plant nursery in the Dutch town of Middenmeer is specialized in the cultivation and sales of edible flowers, herbs, mini- and micro vegetables, and salty vegetables. It will not be unaffected by a new lockdown situation. The company mainly supplies restaurants in the Netherlands who, out of fear of having a packed fridge during a lockdown, leaving them with too many products left over, have been ordering less. The same happened this spring when almost out of nowhere, everyone had to close shop. The German customers of PUURgroenten continue ordering.

Han can’t do much else than stay creative and try to anticipate what will happen next, even though Mother Nature is not affected by Covid-19 and the plants continue to grow. “A living organism won’t be put on hold.”

It warms Han’s heart to see so much support on social media for the plant nursery and the service industry in general. “When I see all the compassion from the consumers, I know there is a market for our product, and it is up to us to find creative ways to keep on making sales just like we did in spring.”

In the summer, they managed to get back about seventy to eighty percent of their regular sales. “It was a positive change, but we are not completely there yet.” He has a meeting to brainstorm every day with Saskia, who runs PUURgroenten together with Han. “For instance, about creating a meal-box, though it is difficult to compete with the big companies in that segment. A drive-thru is also an option, though the weather is not in our favor at the moment, so we need to think of different ways to approach it. Luckily, the chefs also think along with us and text us their ideas.”

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