The soft fruit market is enjoying good demand. “We are still seeing strawberry consumption increasing with percentages of five per cent on the European continent and up to ten per cent in the UK. Raspberry sales are even increasing by 15 to 20 per cent. All in all, they are becoming more and more successful in total. Five hundred million Europeans are all consuming more and more soft fruit. A good variety development is key for that,” says Ben van der Most from Driscoll’s.
Ben van der MostStrawberries
“Strawberries are an excellent example of this,” Ben continues. “The earlier ‘water bombs’ from Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Spain have been replaced with more flavourful strains. Because of that, consumption has become more constant, and prices for the tasty strawberries are better as well. Furthermore, supply from Morocco and Spain is currently lower because of the cold winter, and there are not enough strawberries to meet demand. In week 10, we will start with Dutch greenhouse strawberries, and despite the peak in Spanish strawberry supply, we see an increase in sales. Our Driscoll Lusa strawberries will arrive three to four weeks earlier than Elsanta and Sonata, and consumers appreciate this flavourful strawberry with its good shape and strong shelf life.”
The largest increase in the soft fruit category can be found in raspberries and blackberries. “With a supply of about 400 tonnes per week, we meet a constant demand. Our new variety Driscoll Carmina is doing very well, but public varieties ensure total consumption is increasing,” Ben says.
“We also see enormous progress in demand and volume of blackberries for all Northern European supermarket chains. We anticipated that by increasing our greenhouse cultivation, and installing, among other things, LED lighting. Consumers respond very positively to Driscoll Victoria, a large blackberry with a sweet taste and a good shelf life. We realised good prices with this in recent months. From week 12-13, we will start with these blackberries on a larger scale in the Netherlands.”
“Chile, a country with large sales in the US traditionally, had a difficult season qualitatively. For the European market, we focus mostly on Peru with its own varieties, which are slightly larger and have the correct flavour. We see Peru as an important production country for the future, but a country such as Morocco can also meet the increasing European demand for blueberries in the long term,” Ben explains. “Thanks to our close cooperation with European supermarkets we see a constant increase for the soft fruit sector.”