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Peter Beemsterboer:

Netherlands: "Quality needed for further onion exportation growth"

J.P. Beemsterboer Food Traders was founded in 1943 and developed into to a leading exporter of potatoes and onions. Peter Beemsterboer talks about the problems facing the Dutch onion sector theses days:The most important threat for the Dutch onion sector the Quality, we will have to focus more on quality and less on volume."      

Quality problems
"The last season the onion prices began relatively high, but the quality tumbled around mid January. The quality became so bad, that we decided in the middle of march to stop exporting", says Peter Beemsterboer.     

"This year the quality is in many cases, again bad. The difference this year is that the prices are also extremely low. Even so, I am convinced that if the prices were five Euro higher, we would export the same amount", says the exporter. "The result is that nobody is earning any money in the chain.   

Onion position Holland
Nevertheless Peter is not worried about it, he does not believe that the strong onion position of Holland in the world is in danger. "The consumption is expanding world wide, because the living standards are getting higher. Every year new areas are buying Dutch onions. Twenty-five years back we were at half of our current export volume and we though we couldn't go higher. Now we are almost at a volume of a million tons.    

Still a good quality, even for the onion export is needed, says the exporter. "The past years we have exported a lot to Africa and South America. Structurally there is more room for Dutch onions, as long as the quality is good. "A land like Brazil isn't going to import onions if their own are better. The advantage is that our prices are a bit lower than all the other onion growing countries, but that means that the price can go up a bit more, if the quality gets better. That would be a huge improvement.  

Strong points
"Our power is in our volumes, large sorting capacity and flexibility" says Peter. There is no country that can deliver such good volumes in a very short time and can distribute them worldwide. I am convinced that if we can optimise our quality, we still can grow a lot in export. At the same time this capacity could be our weakness. By speculating the onion growers keep hold of the onions and export opportunities are missed. "   

Publication date: 4/6/2012


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