"We had serious doubts about how the Dutch fruit-vegetable season would go," says Ruud Zwinkels of EFP International. "After the sharp decline in lit cultivation, everyone was somewhat worried about whether all the supply would reach the market at once. But, for now, that's minimally affected trade. There's sufficient, but not excessive, availability. That benefits the products' freshness and turnover rate. Customers were somewhat reserved because prices were expected to drop, but in the end, that didn't happen."
"Bell pepper prices, for example, are still quite high, and tomato prices aren't bad either. Sales dropped slightly at the end of Ramadan, but that happens every year. Only cucumber prices are currently lagging far behind. After last year's good prices, this year's cucumber acreage expanded a bit. Also, the weather's not favorable for cucumber consumption. Cucumbers are often used as thirst quenchers, which hasn't been necessary this year," Ruud explains.
To complement the Dutch season, EFP still imports melons and vegetables from Spain and Morocco. "We're expecting Moroccan tomatoes until the end of May," says account manager Danitsja Mulder. "Those full trucks come to Poeldijk and from Perpignan. The tomato export restrictions the Moroccan government imposed during Ramadan did affect us a little, as did the strikes in France."
EFP is usually strong in exports to the Far and Middle East. "That's our most important, but also the most intensive branch," Ruud adds. "Knowledge in those countries is increasing, thus leading to more produce like tomatoes and snack peppers being cultivated locally. People consider alternatives more quickly, partly due to the recent years' high air freight rates. It's still expensive to grow locally, but that's becoming a more and more interesting option. Also, those countries are increasingly ripening exotics like avocados themselves."
Reasons for EFP to spread its exports more. "My Irish customers also say people are increasingly importing from countries like Morocco," Danitsja admits. "But we certainly can't complain about current sales, and there are no crazy market surprises. However, it seems the weather's going to bring the Spanish soft fruit season to an early end," she concludes.
For more information:
Danitsja Mulder / Ruud Zwinkels
451 ABC Westland
2685 DE, Poeldijk, NL