The Dutch top fruit market has been quieter for quite some time now. But, since last week, things have been getting busier again. This is according to Job van Iterson of Job van Iterson Fruit. This company is based in Haarsteeg, the Netherlands. "Prices have also slowly started climbing again. For example, Conference pears are being sold for between €0,60 and €0,65 at the moment."
"When it comes to quality, the apples look very good. With pears, there are large differences in quality. There is a lot of sorting going on there. There were issues such as wind damage, especially in the Flevopolder area and North-Holland. This means much attention must be given to getting a good bowl of pears," says the fruit trader.
"The mood among the growers is positive for the longer term. But that does not necessarily mean anything. Last year, everyone was also still positive at the start of the season. And we all know how badly things turned out in the end," continues Job. He sells top fruit mainly to supermarkets. He sells the larger sizes to exporters. "Of our turnover, 80% remains domestic."
Van Iterson also got into the game early when it comes to PlanetProof certification. "Clients demand this. More importantly, you cannot easily sell apples that are not certified as PlanetProof anymore."
"Sales are, however, becoming increasingly easier. More and more growers are becoming PlanetProof certified," says Job. He works mostly with Dutch farmers. He does, however, also get fruit from growers in other countries. These countries include Belgium, France, Spain, and Italy. The importer also gets fruit from the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
Quality demands becoming increasingly extreme
In recent years, Job has noticed that the relationship between retailers and suppliers has undergone a change. "Supermarkets are no longer interested in suppliers who can offer their fruit inexpensively every now and then. Supermarkets are moving more and more toward fixed agreements. That is a positive development."
"On the other hand, the supermarkets' quality demands are becoming increasingly extreme. Class I batches are often not good enough for them anymore. The fruit has to look just about perfect. We are, however, working with a product that grows outside. And getting a perfect fruit gets more and more difficult as the season reaches its end."
When asked about the future outlook of fruit trading, Jab answers, "Fewer and fewer people will play the game. It is essential to adjust to changes in the market. Going against market demands makes no sense."
"It remains a nice daily challenge to work with our fruit farmers and clients. It is difficult for us to play a role in the club varieties. But, there are still many other varieties that have to find their place on the market. As long as there are sufficient volumes, we can add value to that," he concludes.