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Jan Engelen, Coöperatie Hoogstraten:

"After a slow spring, our 'Week of Hoogstraten' coincides nicely with the first major peak in volumes"

Coöperatie Hoogstraten is currently in the midst of its 'Week of Hoogstraten'. This week marks the start of the cooperative's campaign 'Hoogstraten, It's Good' alongside the action week, and with higher temperatures and the arrival of larger volumes, it seems to have been a great moment for the kickoff. "It's been a somewhat slow spring, resulting in us being a bit behind in kilograms. However, this week we expect to process around 1.7 million kilos, reaching this peak for the first time this year. It coincides beautifully with the start of the campaign," says Jan Engelen from Coöperatie Hoogstraten.

After a slow start to the spring, the season at Coöperatie Hoogstraten now really seems to be getting underway. "The productions are picking up and the quality is definitely to our liking. That's the advantage of having somewhat worse weather. During the period it was less favorable, we mainly worked with greenhouse crops, where rain is not so damaging to the product. However, they can grow for a long time, resulting in very good quality. From this period onwards, we then add the open-air crops. It is important that it stops raining for these, but for now, it looks like this will be the case, and we can make good use of the predicted sunshine. All in all, it seems to match up perfectly. The only spoiler could be if it suddenly becomes 35 degrees, but let's not assume that will happen."

Good export market
Jan also indicates that they are working with good prices for this time of year. "It's always difficult in a conversation like this to talk about prices, because the tide can turn very quickly with strawberries. Yet, we can say that the price formation has remained stable. Internationally, it was quite difficult to gather the volumes for different countries, resulting in a consistent strong demand. Scandinavia, for example, is well present, but also the demand from France is getting stronger as the local production there seems to be declining. In addition, the UK is also active, which is somewhat strange because they have a lot of their own production. However, they are more focused on perpetual bearers and due to the bad weather there, the volumes have been delayed."

"This good demand also continues into the domestic market," Jan continues. "The demand from domestic players is traditionally strong during this period. Most retailers plan promotions and then it can go quickly. This is further strengthened by our 'Week of Hoogstraten', for which we have designed special punnets, launched radio spots, organized various actions on social media, and set up a sort of roadshow, where a vending machine will be placed in different cities. There are nice prizes to be won. Monday was the first day in Leuven, and it went very well. Despite some rain, there was a good turnout. A promising start to more."

Week of Hoogstraten
This ensures a positive outlook for the future. "These weeks, of course, include several special days with Ascension Day and Mother's Day. You lose some sales days, but you gain extra consumption moments. Moreover, it's a great moment for the 'Week of Hoogstraten', because a strawberry for Mother's Day is always appreciated. Due to all these factors, there is strong demand, which we can also combine with the larger volumes that are coming. It may have been a slower spring, but we are looking forward to the summer. We have a bit more perpetual bearers in our area. The larger volumes of these come a bit later in the season, which gives us the opportunity to catch up on some kilos in the summer. Here, I must also give compliments to our group of growers, who put everything into the fight day in and day out to deliver beautiful strawberries. We can talk about busy or slow periods, but the hard work and flexibility of the growers ensure that customers always come back for Hoogstraten strawberries. Maybe it's time to organize a 'Day of the Grower', Jan laughs.

"Together with those growers, we can also go full steam ahead this summer, as there are beautiful things to come. We will continue with various actions during the summer as part of our marketing campaign, where we will also focus more on social media. Here we work together with various content creators and have meanwhile hired a permanent employee who will be fully engaged with our socials. Moreover, we also expect a boost from the Olympic Games in Paris. Unfortunately, we are not a partner, but France has become an increasingly important export market for us, so our exporters are already on the starting blocks. We are looking forward to it."

For more information:
Jan Engelen
Coöperatie Hoogstraten
Loenhoutseweg 59
2320 Hoogstraten, Belgium
Tel.: +32 33 40 02 11
[email protected]

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