From 1 November, Luciën de Wit starts with LuBa Fresh. With a new name, but 30 years of experience in the trade, he will supply his customers with grapes and other imported fruit, year-round. LuBa Fresh has been named in honour of his sons Luuk and Bas. “I hope to create a good basis for their future!”
The principal part of the assortment was already known at the onset. “During the last 25 years, grapes were the connecting thread in my career. During the last twelve years with SousFresh (previously known as PeDe), but also the twelve years prior to that at De Groot International, I was able to further my expertise within the grape import business. Now that SousFresh has changed its course in recent years, shifting its primary focus to the food service and gastronomy market, and the import branch was no longer a good fit, we went our separate ways by mutual agreement,” says De Wit.
Lucien and Luuk de Wit
“It is a great advantage that I have the freedom to work with who I want to work with. That is how I have already managed to secure the grape programmes from Namibia, South Africa, Egypt, Italy, Greece and Peru for the coming year. From Brazil and Chile I might not have permanent programmes, but I do have contacts. I have built an enormous network over the years, and that makes or breaks everything. Many suppliers are not bound to any one company or person. I have worked with some suppliers for 25 years already,” De Wit says. “Furthermore, I have noticed that the independence that is coupled to my independent entrepreneurship has also attracted a significant number of new relationships.”
This also offers opportunities to expand the assortment. “I already receive requests from suppliers to market multiple products. From mid-November to mid-January I will have programmes with Egyptian strawberries via air freight, and from Greece I will have kiwi fruit, oranges and also the familiar Lunga-Dumura melons. But I want to take it step by step, and do not need to have an enormous client base,” De Wit explains.
“That is also why I am happy with my choice of Hansen Logistiek to be my partner, they will take care of all logistical activities, from storage to cooling and inspections. My ambition is definitely not to have the largest warehouse. I am independent, and my overheads are much lower, making me interesting to many customers, including new customers,” De Wit continues. He focuses on wholesalers, importers and exporters and suppliers of supermarkets throughout Europe.
John Hansen (Hansen Logistiek) takes care of all logistical activities.
The Italian grape season is currently finishing quickly. “The grape cultivation in Puglia has been partially flooded, and can be considered 98 per cent finished. We have some supply from Sicily, but those prices are much higher. Greece also had problems. We currently have Brazilian grapes, and we are getting ready for the South African and Namibian season,” the grape specialist explains.
“People start picking in the Transvaal this week, and those grapes will arrive on an empty market. The first three weeks of the South African and Namibian season, prices will therefore be at a high level. The week before Christmas is always risky, because of pre-Christmas sales, which is why I want to focus on early strains at first. But it is a long season, it lasts from week 46 to week 16 in the four major cultivation areas.”
De Wit is looking forward to it. “After having worked for a boss for 30 years, it is quite a step to start for yourself, but the responses from customers and suppliers give me much confidence. My motto is: do honest business, so you can always look people in the eye. And to me it is naturally wonderful that my sons are interested in all of the company’s developments, regarding the future. We are ready!”