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Kees Oskam during kennisdag Fruitteelt

"Conference proves to be a topper for over seventy years already"

In between all the 'noise' of the new pear varieties Kees Oskam made a plea for the 'phenomenal Conference' at the Kennisdag voor de Fruitteelt (Day of Knowledge for the Fruit Cultivation) organized by NFO, PPO Fruit and PT. According to the pear exporter, the Conference is the number 1 pear variety in Europe and for good reason. He advised all present to unconditionally cherish this variety. "Conference has already proven for more than seventy years to be a success. It is like a diesel engine, slow to start but impossible to be stopped now."

Kees Oskam

Kees mainly sees opportunities for the Conference in countries with a growing prosperity, where the healthy and tasty Conference pears will be appreciated. "As this pear is popular in both firm and ripe condition with all kinds of groups of buyers, we must be able to benefit from these qualities. Of course we should be able to improve the consumption in existing markets and resist the loss of quality in the trading channel."

As a potentially new sales area Kees sees - in addition to China, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, Middle and South America - the Turkish market. Kees himself went to the Turkish market last autumn, at his own expense, to promote the Conference pear. "Many Turkish people living in The Netherlands are very fond of the Conference. Knowing this we should be able to establish ourselves in the Turkish pear market, which is not yet used to year-round availability of eating pears. I also see possibilities for the Conference pear as a niche-market in the organic channel."

As unique properties of the Conference pear Kees mentioned the year-round availability with the result that the selling is carried by a large diversity of players in the market. "The mild Northsea climate is a piece of luck for cultivation and trade.

The best product comes from The Netherlands, although there is also cultivation in Belgium, France, Spain, Germany and Poland. We do not need to be afraid of competition from Eastern Europe, because the weak lower trunk often does not survive the heavy winter frost."

Theo Vogelaar: "Is it really wise to offer Conference all year round?

The fruit exporter warned all present not to return to SmartFresh too quickly, as this, in his opinion, causes too much loss of taste. He also mentioned fertigation (drop by drop irrigation) indispensable and asked growers to work together with well established trading companies. "I am sure that they are the cheapest personnel in the sector. Supply structures are not on their own, but especially the total supply of pears is of the utmost importance. This was very clear last season!"

Referring to the metaphor of a Conference being a diesel engine, Rinus van 't Westeinde mentioned as a result of his visit to German supermarkets, that the 'diesel engine' occasionally gets stuck. In his idea the chains should be shorter in order to export pears of a good quality, instead that it sometimes takes two weeks for the pears to arrive to the place of destination. Kees Oskam mentioned, that to be able to understand the objections of the growers. "In my opinion you will not always be able to prevent this, but we do everything to educate our clients as much as possible and to offer the pears for instance, in a cooled condition."

Finally Kees handed a copy of the fruit cultivation film 'Apples from our own soil' - which was made around 1984 by order from CBT - to NFO-chairman Johan van Haarlem, who then made a point of saying: "This is the first time that I received something for nothing from the trade."

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