“We’ve seen a huge drop in sales when Covid started because normally customers would walk in on a regular basis,” says Lode Claus, owner at Kruiden (Herbs) Claus. “Normally the season kicks off in mid-March as many costumers will start exploring their options. However, with the lockdown in March, things had to be done differently. We soon realized we had to tackle that hurdle, so we decided to take on e-commerce and started a webshop.”
Kruiden Claus, a Belgian-based breeder, specializes in potted herbs. Wholesalers and consumers can find a large assortment of herbs, strawberry plants, edible flowers, a large variety of herbs, aromatic plants, and particular forgotten vegetables in all scents, colors, and flavors. The company has been there ever since 1900, and Lode is the 4th generation that is breeding herbs and edible plants. From kitchen plants to vegetables, the company has it all.
Increase in sales through online webshop
"Then we started our webshop and alphabetically ordered all plants in the greenhouse. A plant mix was put into boxes in the hope to attract as many customers as possible. Eventually, this took off really well," explains Lode, as the company had sold about 300 boxes within six weeks, across the country. From Belgium to Holland to Luxembourg, Kruiden Claus supplies its customers via online orders.
“We’d see orders coming in from Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg.” However, a webshop is not without hurdles, Lode claims. People had a lot of patience at the beginning of Covid, but now consumers would like to see their order the next day in. Unfortunately, that was not always possible given the growing demand. However, it is looking bright for the company as soon they will welcome visitors and customers on-site in mid-October.
Dutch appetite for exotic spices
“We see a significant difference between the consumers' preferences in Belgium and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, there’s a strong demand for spices, such as Lemon Beebrush which are used for infusions, Licorice grass, and Asian spices,” Lode affirms. He explains that these flavors are better suited for the Dutch market and keep being high-demand products.
“Going onwards, we’ll keep a close eye on market trends and adjust to that demand steadily. Everything’s developing, so we’re really looking at customer requests”. Lode says that there is some investment news coming ahead soon as well. However, the focus will always stay on edible plants and herbs, as there are some niche opportunities in small fruits.
Next to that, Lode hopes to stay connected to consumers through workshops, tastings, and tours. The company will also keep developing innovative partnerships inside horticulture, such as with Plant-T.
“We’re working on a lot of different projects in terms of herbs. We want to fulfill as many demands as possible for our customers. Therefore, we’re never holding back on customer requests like growing specific herbs meeting specific demands,” Lode notes. The company also houses Plant-T, a vertical growing tower supplier and grower of specialty crops for consumers. Next to different breeding experiments, the company sells three books written by Lode and his father, on herb breeding, which are sold in Belgium and the Netherlands. Lode adds, “In this way, we’d like to educate society on herbs and plants.”