It has been another unusual summer for soft fruit in the Netherlands, especially concerning supply patterns. "There were many delays. Then, suddenly, everything came onto the market at once. So, the market and prices came under some pressure. That requires flexibility from both growers and buyers," says Erwin van den Oever, Veiling Zaltbommel's commercial director.
"This summer's strawberry season went extremely well. That was for the auction as well as brokers. We had quite a few promotional deals with our customers. The strawberries sold for good prices at auction too. By and large, open field growers had a good summer season. The cash crop farmers, too, have good prognoses. Supplies are now starting to increase gradually."
Raspberry volumes keep lagging
This summer's raspberry market was more challenging. Not so much price-wise; volumes kept lagging. "Mother Nature didn't help, and the raspberries just didn't grow. That made it very difficult to meet agreements. The situation is much better now. At times this summer, we might have been able to get even higher market prices. But, sometimes, you have to maintain your prices to serve existing clients," explains Erwin.
"The red currant season is progressing well too. Many of these berries are going into storage. However, those being auctioned are selling quite well. Blueberries had a good start. These are forging ahead to make it a great season."
Two new strawberry farmers, one new raspberry one
The commercial director had said before that they wanted to actively enter the market. They aim to increase their growers and buying public. For the coming season, a raspberry and two strawberry growers have joined Veiling Zaltbommel. One is a large outdoor farmer.
"Growers regularly ask if they can join us. Sometimes it fits, sometimes it doesn't. For a product like strawberries, we have the buyers anyway. We have also found farmers for several import products, like white and black radish. We didn't have those in our assortment before," says Edwin.
Veiling Zaltbommel is actively expanding its client base too. "We're not shy about looking across [the Netherlands'] borders. German-speaking countries are receiving special attention. That's a fairly new market for us. But we have the range to take care of them as a one-stop shop. Our 130 permanent growers and 120 guest members supply that assortment."
Turnover was 15% higher than the previous year
The cooperative is growing strongly for now. "There's been a difference in turnover in recent months. That's because product supplies are lagging. Nevertheless, we're still 15% ahead of last year. That's true across the buyers' board too. Greengrocers, for example, continue to thrive unabatedly. Hospitality wholesalers are also back on the market. They're now buying a reasonable volume again. But due to the restrictions, this share is still lower than before COVID-19," Edwin concludes.