In the Netherlands, harvesting kiwi berries will soon come to an end at Nature’s Pride. Frits de Bruin and Rick Scholtes are pleased with the quality. They, however, know all too well how unpredictable kiwi berries are. "What works one year, can just as easily not work the next season, and vice versa," says Frits.
"As a result, only the strongest players remain in the market. It will only succeed if you have faith in your product. You must stand behind it. You must keep believing, and you must have a grower that feels the same way. If you do not, you will not manage to continue."
Frits de Bruin and Rick Scholtes
Nature's Pride works with two Dutch growers - Meeuwisse in Bleijswijk and KG Fruit in Kapelle. Meeuwisse cultivates under 1 hectare of glass. This only works with one variety, the Issai. KG Fruit grows the Ananasnaya variety in full soil.
“The quality is good. I think it may even be the best year ever," says Frits. "There was a fire at KG Fruit in 2017. However, following this dramatic event, this company did not give up. They grasped the opportunity to expand. They can be proud of that. I admire that, immensely."
"KG Fruit's crop looks good. The fruit still needs to be sorted. We are expecting a volume of about 30 tons. But, of that, roughly 15% gets discarded during sorting," Frits continues.
The Dutch kiwi berry seasons lasts around two months. "Our retail clients, in particular, would like to lengthen this. However, we are nowhere near being able to offer this product year-round. This is despite worldwide cultivation initiatives. We are busy researching how to extend the season. We are looking at, for example, CA storage. But, that is still far off."
Nature's Pride tries to work with fixed prices as much as possible. "Unfortunately, we see that especially the Southern European growers bring their kiwi berries onto the market far too early. Their fruit has nowhere near the correct brix and quality levels."
"This is disastrous for sales. You get a large amount of product on the market all at once. This sudden influx puts pressure on the prices. It is completely unnecessary with such a niche product," Frits explains.
An increasing number of exotic fruit and vegetables can now be produced in Europe. This is due to climate change. "They are trying to grow exotics in Southern Europe. These products usually come from Asia. Kiwi berry cultivation is on the rise in countries such as Italy and Portugal."
"However, cultivation development demands an immense amount of work. When growing kiwi berries, it takes five years before you get into the right flow. This is the big mistake growers make - they underestimate the time and attention needed to cultivate kiwi berries." Frits goes on to say.
Nature's Pride is not yet looking to have their Dutch and Belgian growers expand. “KG Fruit has enough room to grow, so we have ample opportunities."
Nature's Pride's kiwi berries are popular with retailers and wholesalers across Europe. "Germany and Scandinavia are big buyers. But Dutch supermarkets keep finding their way to this product more too."
"It is a product that still needs to be explained. This is where marketing comes in. We try to teach not only our clients about this berry. We also educate consumers. We use promo sheets on social media and the kiwi berries' packaging," Frits concludes.
For more information:
Frits de Bruin / Rick Scholtes
2676 LV Maasdijk, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 174 526 586