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Adem Ozan, Turkish shop owner:
"Dutch are becoming more adventurous with food"
The range in these stores is typically comprised of various special products from North African, Eastern European and Middle Eastern markets. So the name ‘Turkish shop’ therefore, is strictly speaking not altogether correct. It is, however, the name most commonly used.
On the Rotterdam wholesale market, Elbert Duifhuizen also spots customers with a variety of different nationalities. What he noticed is that the owners of Turkish shops undergo a process of professionalization. "Today, you can see various initiatives popping up that improve the organization. Previously they only had local shops, but in recent years, they also take over former retailers. These they turn into veritable Turkish supermarkets. It’s simply a matter of scaling up.”
At the same time, the number of Dutch customers visiting the wholesale market has decreased, their places ostensibly being taken by immigrants. To serve this new group of customers, Van der Well has extended the range of specific products such as bottle gourds, melon varieties and several other types of grapes. The sale of ginger, for example, has risen sharply with the advent of the new customer group.
"You see a lot of good entrepreneurs that manage to last, but there are also stores that regularly change ownership," Elbert Duifhuizen notices. Turkish-born Adem Ozan has been running a Turkish shop in Rotterdam since 2000. He retains what he calls a long-term vision, and often thinks about where he wants to be in ten to twenty years. "I think quality is very important. Customers must have a reason to come back. So the products must have a shelf life of at least a few days,” he states.
Flavour is decisive
At the Star Market, Adem Ozan’s shop, the flavour is decisive. "The fact that some of my cucumbers are bent, doesn’t mean they’re bad. In fact, they actually taste better. The bent ones are marketed by producers for the Turkish consumer, because we think the taste is better. Export cucumbers don’t have much flavour at all. The Turkish community pays more attention to flavour than to appearance. That is something the Dutch are starting to learn."
The effects of selection based on taste are visible at Van der Wel. "It plays an important role for these customers," says Elbert Duifhuizen. "Cucumbers, oranges and tomatoes, everything is sampled first. For some customers, flavour is more important than price. Turkish customers are more quality-conscious than some Dutch vegetable growers I know."
Quality over price
Another difference the wholesale trader sees is that, in general, Moroccan customers pay even more attention to quality than Turkish customers. "Turks look at both quality and price. With Moroccans, it’s quality and taste first. Moroccans are more inclined to pay extra for a quality product."
But it isn’t just flavour. It’s also about increasing familiarity. According to Adem, Dutch customers don’t just drop by for a familiar domestic product. "They also choose Turkish specialities. They read about it somewhere, and they want to try it for themselves. Dutch customers are becoming more and more familiar with the concept."
Van der Wel Rotterdam BV
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