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Steven Oosterloo-Flevo Berry:

"'Consumers say retailers don't know what they want"

In a recent survey, more than 50% of consumers said that they felt like retailers don't really know what they want. This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed, especially on the back of an increasing demand for soft fruit, as consumers are interested in adding the berries to their regular diet, while trends continue to push healthier lifestyles.

Steven Oosterloo from Flevo Berry, during his presentation at the recent Global Berry Congress in Rotterdam (entitled 'Strawberry-Breeding for the Future'), said that the most important thing that needs to be examined is how to attract more shoppers to the store.

"We need to make sure that customers are increasing their spending. Since more and more people are buying their food online on websites like Peapod and Amazon, it is all about creating a food market experience for those who visit the produce section in the physical stores. This is the only way to make sure that we grab the big spenders, but also encourage current shoppers to buy more," stressed Steven.

There have been a lot of challenges recently for the industry such as climate change, a lack of water and labour issues, which means that, alongside putting taste down as the first priority, it is also important to create new varieties which are stronger, can be grown with fewer chemicals (so they are residue free), but also to help fill the gaps during the season so that production can continue to move towards being year round.

"The most important thing is that we should never make any concessions on flavour. At Flevo Berry, we are continually working hard to develop new varieties which tick all of the boxes for both growers and producers. We have seen a lot of success with the Sonsation and Favori strawberry varieties, which, along with winning awards for flavour, are also strong varieties with strong shelf lives. We have a advanced selection, 08-06-10 which doesn't have a name yet, but we think that now is the perfect time to introduce the variety to the market."

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