Harm Valckx, Cooperation of European Blueberry Growers:

"Increased punnet size ensures that the market can absorb more blueberries"

The 2019 blueberry year went well according to Harm Valckx of Berry Packing Services from Venlo. "At the moment we see Peru and Argentina decreasing in volume and quality, but we have already received the first Chilean berries and that will be followed up with decent volumes in the coming weeks. I don't think anyone in the blueberry market will complain about the year 2019, although we did lose quite a few kilos in the second half of the harvest season due to the warm weather. In any case, we have not had a bad year. "

Where other players in the berry market sometimes worry about saturation of the market due to the worldwide growing plantings, Harm is less impressed by this. "You know, the punnet size in the berries is also increasing enormously. Nowadays, we supply a lot more berries in 500 and 300 grams in top weeks and less in the usual 125-gram package. As a result, we see that the market can also take much more volume. "

"We do see a certain price stability this year. The peaks are all a bit levelled out. The large exporters from South America can participate well with their average price, but it will become increasingly difficult for the traditional trader," Harm expects, who with Berry Packing Services has focused purely on service in the berries.

"With the 'European Blueberry Growers UA Co-operative' set up this year, we have taken on sales ourselves for the Northern European season. Twelve growers are connected with a total area of ​​around 280 hectares, accounting for 2.5 million kilos of Dutch, German, Polish and Lithuanian blueberries," says Harm. "Several growers have signed up to join us, but we want to tackle this in a very controlled way. For now we want to continue doing this with a selected group of growers."

The blueberries of the members of the cooperative are packaged according to customer requirements by Berry Packing Services, the sorting and packaging company for blueberries in Venlo, which arose a few years ago from a partnership between Special Fruit from Meer and the cultivation companies of Harm Valckx and Leon Schrijnwerkers. With the location in the former Sunberry International building, Harm is back to his former site.

Despite the anti-plastic discussion that is being held this year, Harm does not expect the plastic packaging of the blueberries to disappear. "I see the market moving more towards recycled plastic. We also see that next season some German customers will switch from covered product to top seal to reduce environmental pressure, but I certainly do not see the plastic packaging going out. Alternative packaging made of cardboard and pulp is not optimal and therefore doesn't persist."

For more information:
Harm Valckx
European Blueberry Growers U.A. Cooperative
Tel: 0031 (0) 77-7650000

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