Five years ago, Russia placed an embargo on, among other things, all fruit and vegetables from the EU, US, Australia, Canada, and Norway. This boycott was to have lasted for a year from Thursday, 7 August 2014. It has since been extended four times.
We asked Belgian and Dutch exporters about its consequences. Today it is Kees Boonman of Zeeland Fruit's turn. This company is based in the town of Kattendijke in the Netherlands.
"We were hit very hard by the boycott. A large percentage of our sales took place in Russia. In hindsight, it is always easy to say you should spread your clients over different countries. But, when it is going well, and you always have more demand than you have stock for, it is difficult to supply other countries too," says Kees.
Kees, on the right, at last year's World Food Moscow.
According to him, Conference pears bore the brunt of the ban. Especially the Class 1's. "Good Class 1's can go anywhere. We have certainly been supplying other countries. It is, however, such a pity to have to suddenly put an end to the good relationships you have had with clients for so many years. We still have good contact with our Russian clients. We still supply them with imported fruit from other countries."
Does this Dutch fruit exporter have any hope that the ban will be lifted? "The boycott will surely come to an end. That could, however, still take many years. Just think of potatoes, for example. As long as politicians are too stubborn to sit down together, the ban will continue for a long time."
"Things look dismal for the fruit cultivation sector. Politicians do not realize how far-reaching the consequences are. Other companies are also affected, not only the growers," Kees concludes.