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Jan Vermeiren, Exofi:

"French kiwis - the best quality they've been in five years"

"This year is one of the better kiwi seasons we had in the past few years", says Jan Vermeiren of the Belgian fruit and vegetable importer, Exofi. This year there was 25% less production in Italy and France. The reason for this is the lower temperature experienced over the last period. "Many areas in France and Italy where kiwis are cultivated suffered frost damage. Exofi gets their kiwis from the Dax province in France. This region is close to the Pyrenees mountains and has a microclimate. The average temperature in Dax is, therefore, ten degrees warmer. Our kiwis are smaller than average, but their taste is the best it has been in five years", according to Jan. 

The French kiwis' good flavour, is because these kiwis are harvested a month later than their Italian counterpart. In Italy, kiwis are harvested early to avoid the risk of frost damage. "The Italian kiwis are harvested when their Brix levels reach 6 or 7. French kiwis' Brix levels are more than 9 because of the later harvesting. This makes them taste nicer. The Italian kiwis also always weigh less than the French ones", says Jan. 

"In the past, you only found kiwis from France, Italy and New Zealand on the Belgian market. Nowadays, an increasing number of Greek and Turkish kiwis are showing up in Brussels. The Turkish kiwis are a real premium product", says Jan. "Greece and Turkey use to only grow for their local markets, but this is changing. Since there are fewer and fewer French and Italian kiwis on the market, more and more Greek and Turkish ones are imported. Many kiwi trees are being planted in Spain and Portugal. This will ensure that more of these countries kiwis will come onto the market in the future."

Exofi only sells the green kiwi. There are various varieties on the market, like the yellow kiwi and kiwi berry. "We have noticed that the kiwi berry is gaining popularity. It is, however, still a minor product with 20 tonnes being produced. These amounts are negligible when compared to the yearly French kiwi production of 82 000 kgs."

The coming season is expected to become one of many shortages and high prices. "We have found the current season to be one of the better ones we have had in years. We have been trading in kiwis for 40 years already, and we are pleased that this season has, again, been an easy one", concludes Jan.

For more information:
Jan Vermeiren
Exofi Fresh Market
Warehouse 25-26, 112 Werkhuizenkaai
B-100 Brussel
+32(0) 224 312 49
+32(0) 475 860 980

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