Wilkofruit is receiving and sending out a lot of summer fruit. The import company is specialised in stone fruit. The majority is bought in Spain, where supply is starting later this season.
“The season is going well so far this season,” said Wilko van der Zwaard of Wilkofruit in the first week of June. The large volumes have not yet arrived, and are taking longer this season as well. In December and January, Spain had extremely warm weather, followed by a cold spring. “Conditions are better now, but not yet optimal. This has repercussions on production. Growth was slow, so that the season has been delayed. The summer fruit is available three weeks later than usual.” At the time of writing, Spain is still experiencing lower temperatures than the people are used to. “A strange situation, I haven’t experienced this before,” the importer says. “We were recently visited by a number of Spanish people from the largest cherry cooperative in Europe. They were also very surprised. It would normally be around 30 degrees Celsius in Spain now, but temperatures are barely higher than 20 degrees. It’s warmer in the Netherlands than in Spain.”
More than enough cherries
The production regions Lerida and Zaragoza are about to start early in June. The first stone fruit will then be loaded there, giving the starting shot to the proper volumes. Regarding availability, Wilkofruit isn’t expecting anything special. Murcia had a few tornadoes with hail, so part of the production was destroyed. The production region was also hit by drought, which mostly affected the melon growers. “Much rain fell after that. In some regions, as much rain came down in three days as would sometimes come down in the Netherlands in three months. Too much rain isn’t good either. The brix levels of the fruit drop if there’s too much rain.” He can’t say if this will have consequences for the total volumes of stone fruit. “They say there will be less, but I doubt it. Nectarines and peaches are constantly being renewed, and new trees are still being planted.”
This season will see plenty of cherries, not just from Spain, but also from countries such as Italy, Turkey and Greece. While supply normally arrives spread out, everything is now arriving at the same time. Wilko says he’s one of the largest importers of cherries in the Netherlands. “For years, we’ve worked with major Spanish cherry cooperative Valle de Jerte, among others, and they market their cherries under the Zalama brand. The cold weather during setting of the cherries delayed production, but flavour is good. When Belgian and Dutch cherries such as Kordia and Regina start arriving, we’ll be drowning in them.” The importer says they’ll receive Hungarian cherries later in the season. These cherries mostly come from Dutch growers, who grow the same varieties there as in the Netherlands. “We’ll have to wait and see what the market will do. We’ll still be dependent on the weather and production elsewhere. Last year, there was much demand from Poland, because a large part of their production was damaged. Until last week, Polish cherries were sold for high prices, but now they have very low prices. Fortunately, we’re broadly oriented, regarding both customers and sales markets, so they’ll find their way.”
Increasingly better apricot varieties
Besides cherries, Wilkofruit also does much with apricots. The importer works with two permanent suppliers, among others, to that end, one in France and one in Spain. They are both also actively improving the better varieties such as Floppia, Colorado, Morradour and new variety Totum. “That last variety is a completely red variety, which is unique. Few importers have Totum. People are willing to pay for the exclusive product.” Wilko says the apricots are gaining popularity again, which is mostly thanks to the improvement of varieties. “In the past, grandmothers used apricots to make jam. The varieties grown now are sweet and juicy and look well.” Additionally, Wilkofruit will also receive plenty of yellow and red-fleshed plums and paraguayos this season.
Good demand because of warm weather
So far, Wilko has spoken of a good market for summer fruit with better prices than in previous years. The good demand is largely thanks to the summery temperatures in the Netherlands. Ramadan also has an influence on the market, according to him. “In the beginning of the fasting period, there was much demand, but less than usual are being sold now. Watermelons are the only ones still doing well. This might be because far fewer watermelons were planted in Morocco. Our Moroccan customers play an important role in the trade. We expect it will be busier again after the Ramadan. Proper volumes still have to start arriving, which could have repercussions on the market. We won’t properly get started until mid-June.”
Wilko van der Zwaard