Sales of Asian vegetables from Dutch greenhouses are chugging along nicely, says Cees Visser of Asian Crop. With winter approaching, the company supplies Asian vegetables from Spain and year-round from their Dutch greenhouse. "We can't complain about the current prices. But, that's also much needed because of the high costs."
"We're heating minimally, so that's not costing us that much. But you want to keep vegetables frost-free, so you'll have to heat them a little, and every cubic meter of gas costs five times more. There's some noticeable market turmoil because of inflation and cost increases. The question is whether prices aren't getting too high for consumers," wonders Cees.
Cees, Leo and Danielle Visser
In 2020, the pandemic caused issues for this Dutch nursery. "We'd just begun production, and sales largely fell away in those early days. Fortunately, we could change course with sales to supermarkets and wholesalers who serve consumers directly. That kept sales at a certain level. Luckily, that situation improved."
Increasingly more small packs
An important recent trend is that Asian leafy vegetables are increasingly being sold in small packs (flow packs), says Cees, who runs Asian Crop alongside his sister, Danielle.
The company supplies its Asian vegetables to customers throughout Europe. "We mainly focus on wholesalers. We leave the larger supermarkets to others- that's a business of its own," he explains.
Asian Crop's assortment has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Not everyone is familiar with products such as Am Choi, Hing Choi, and Ong Cho. Still, according to Cees, more and more Europeans are trying out Asian vegetables. "People are increasingly eating Asian vegetables. Something like Shanghai Bok Choy has become almost commonplace. We also offer our customers a wide range of exotic products, but they come to us mainly for Asian leafy vegetables. We use the other exotics to up the pallets."
In the Netherlands, Asian vegetable cultivation acreage has remained fairly stable, adds Cees. "Occasionally, a grower joins or drops out. It's not a huge market, so as soon there's a little too much product on the market, prices immediately come under pressure. It's also not a crop that you just do on the side, especially if you always want to be able to deliver. You really have to be on top of it; otherwise, it won't work," he concludes.