Last year the kick off of the collaboration between Driscoll's and Aartsen took place. Although their activities differ considerably from one another, both companies seem to match perfectly. "Quality finds each other," say Richard Uijtdewillegen of Aartsen and Ben van der Most of Driscoll's with satisfaction. In week 20, a promotion week will be held at the Aartsen locations in the Netherlands and Belgium, during which they will be going big with Driscoll's range for large and small companies.
Driscoll's is an expert in the breeding, production, sales and marketing of soft fruit, with a focus on sales to European retailers and strives to market only the best soft fruit, with the development of unique varieties being one of the top priorities, while Aartsen imports from over 50 countries and sells their wide range of fruit and vegetables on the Benelux market to all markets outside the supermarket channel.
"We are very pleased with how the collaboration is going. In addition to our fixed lines towards retail, we have managed to realise additional sales through Aartsen to wholesalers and retailers. This varies from a wholesaler to the greengrocer around the corner. The volumes are steadily growing," says Ben. That experience is mutual. "We took stock at the end of last year and the target we set in advance had already been achieved by mid-year," agrees commercial manager Richard Uijtdewillegen of Aartsen. "Our customers react enthusiastically to the Driscoll's range. Customers come back to it weekly. This way we can get the right prices from the right markets."
"We got engaged last year," Richard symbolises the partnership. "The planning and communication are increasingly coordinated. I am convinced that the bond will only get stronger. With Driscoll's we have obtained a year-round range of high-quality soft fruit. The Driscoll's brand really adds value to our customers, because they will come back to it. It is mainly our regular customers who have started working with the Driscoll's range. Soft fruit is an important product category and our customers experience the added value of the brand. In addition, we also have some new customers thanks to the Driscoll's range. "
"The raspberries and blueberries are a particular favourite, but the blackberries are also regularly purchased," agrees his colleague Miguel Peragón of Aartsen. For the promotion week in week 20, it is therefore these products that will be put in the spotlight. "We are currently sourcing raspberries from Portugal, blueberries from Morocco and blackberries from Dutch greenhouses," says Ben van der Most. "Strawberries have not been included in this promotion. Most supermarkets have switched from the Iberian season to the Dutch greenhouse season, so prices will be on the high side next week and there will be too little volume available for large promotions."
"With our independent growers in Portugal, Spain and Morocco, we have been fully committed to this promotion week and we have therefore ensured that we have beautiful volumes of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries available in a distinctive open packaging, which emphasises the freshness of the product. It is a perfect week for a sale, because the fruit is at its best. Now we hope the weather forecast is sunny, because when the sun shines, consumers long for the delicious sweet taste of our product," said Ben. Miguel Peragón looks forward to the promotion week with confidence. "We are going to show off at all stores with the display, including market stalls and banners. All stores will have beautiful fresh trade on Monday morning. The 'hut' should be completely full!"
When asked about the consequences of the Corona measures on the supply and sale of soft fruit, Ben replies: "The initial shock was big. We were especially concerned about how the volume would be harvested. But the health of our pickers has always been at the forefront. Each country had its own specific guidelines and we did not take any risks in that, where we could not get the harvest well organised, we did not let it go ahead. This caused some losses, particularly in raspberries, as these were the largest volumes at the time."
"From a technical point of view, from the first measures with the closure of catering, we saw a declining demand in the wholesale market and the catering / food service. At the same time, however, we saw an increased demand in supermarkets. Along with the other fruit and vegetable products, the consumer also hoarded soft fruit. Sales have now stabilised and the wholesale markets have also found their way back again," says Ben. Richard sees the same picture from Aartsen. "The first week after Corona we really sold an incredible amount, the following week sales fell sharply and sales have now stabilised."