The warm autumn weather in the Netherlands and Belgium resulted in a difficult start to the Spanish citrus season; demand lagged. Yet David Remy of the Belgian wholesaler’s and importer Jacques Remy isn’t pessimistic. He expects a season with good quality and a larger volume to market.
“We do our own importing from Spain under our own La Primabelle label, and we exclusively sell Brio in the Benelux,” David says. Mostly oranges and clementines are imported under their own label. The Brio label is specialised in Orri tangerines, although the label is more extensive than just citrus, and also consists of avocados and mangoes, for instance. “Most of the label is clementine, oranges and lemons,” the importer says.
Starting with small sizes
It’s the second year the Belgian company imports their own citrus. The company tapped into a growing market with this move. “I think we’ll do 30 to 40 per cent more than last year,” David explains. The Belgian company was founded by grower Clément van Biesen in 1950, and he started by trading Flemish potatoes, onions and carrots at the market in Charleroi. The family company soon grew into a wholesaler’s in vegetables. Fruit was added to the assortment in the late 1970s. In 2012, the La Primabelle label was started. The third generation is now active in the company.
David expects a good quality this year. “The weather in Spain will influence the harvest,” he expects. He’s not very worried about the changes in the weather. “This summer was warm, but it was also warm last year. This year we had rain for about two weeks,” he puts the circumstances in perspective. The warm weather results in smaller fruit. “The fruit was smaller at the start of the season, but it think it’ll be fine once the Clemenules arrive on the market,” he says. “The first tangerines are smaller every year.”
Competition from late varieties
The South African citrus season lasts longer every year, and that affects the start of the Spanish season. “The South African season lasts until mid-October. That complicates the start of the season somewhat,” David says. The first Spanish tangerines then have to compete with late varieties from South Africa. “These late varieties improve all the time,” he continues. This is also true for the Spanish production, for that matter. David thinks the later varieties, such as Orri and Nadercott, are better than the early varieties.
The market for early varieties is becoming tighter and tighter because of this. “The early varieties are always difficult, because they move quickly,” David explains. He expects it’ll be better in week 44. “We’re now receiving a lot of Oronulles, and the South African season is as good as over. The final containers from that country have left.” Yet David won’t ignore the early varieties. “We start with the early varieties. This year was more difficult because it was warm, consumers ask for other products when it’s warm. The market is better when it’s a bit colder. I think we’ll now start properly,” David concludes.