Unusual exotics have been rapidly gaining in importance in recent years: in addition to avocados, papayas and sugar snap peas, coloured fruits and vegetable crops from all over the world are now available in specialist shops. "This trading segment is clearly on the rise", says Hacer Temiz, Managing Director of Asia LLC, based in Krefeld.
Indian okra of the Lady Finger variety. (This variety was harvested when still somewhat smaller, in close consultation with the local producers.)
Okra: Available on the market all year round
The exotics trader with many years of experience offers her customers a colourful selection of unusual products, such as okra. "This finger-thick vegetable is an everyday product in Turkish and Arabic cuisine and is usually used like a bean. At the moment we source our goods from India, but starting in April, it will be Jordanian goods that are on the market, after which we we will again switch providers, and start looking to Turkey," says Mrs. Temiz.
Chirimoya or cinnamon apple from Spain. In one month the supply is expected to run out.
The main variety in the assortment is the Lady Finger, a crop tailored to the European clientele: "In consultation with our partners in India, we have had the original,12 to 15 cm large fruit harvested at about 10 cm. Then, from Turkey, mini okra -up to 3 cm- will be coming in, which is however very sensitive". At the moment, the goods are coming in fresh once a week, arriving in Germany by air freight. "As soon as we see that the demand increases, we want to increase this to two shipments per week."
Chirimoya & medlars: future bestsellers?
In the fruit sector, according to the specialist retailer, chirimoya should be mentioned: In Spain, the fruit has been cultivated on an ever-increasing scale for some years now, while on the German market the so-called cinnamon apple has so far mainly been well received by customers with foreign roots. "The Spanish season runs from August to April and is accordingly discontinued. We then seamlessly switch to medlars, also from Spain. The first new crop is already coming onto the market," says Ms Temiz when outlining the season.
The first Spanish nisperos or medlars of this season.
Exotic trade for 25 years
Asia LLC was founded in 1995 and specializes in the marketing of exotic fruit and vegetable products. The fruit and vegetable exotics are mainly traded under the Cleopattra private label. The head office of the trading company is located in Krefeld, with a warehouse at Fresh Park Venlo. "Our customers can be found in all major wholesale markets in Germany as well as in Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark. Also, some of our goods even go to England."