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Didier Groven, Enzafruit

“This year, we're going to sell record volumes of European Jazz apples”

At the end of May, the European Jazz apple season seamlessly merged with the overseas season. That means these apples are available to European consumers for 12 months of the year. According to Didier Groven of Enzafruit, these apples are of excellent quality. A record volume of European Jazz apples is also going to be sold this year.

“On average, European apple stocks are much lower than last year. On 1 April, the apple stocks were 23% lower than last year. That means overseas apples have room on the market in the coming season,” says Didier. The first apples and pears from New Zealand have been available on the European market since mid-April. At the end of May, Braeburn and Jazz apples were added. That is in addition to the Royal Gala and Cox Orange apples and Doyenné du Comice pears.

At the beginning of June, Pink Lady, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Envy apples follow. “With Jazz, we are going to merge well with the European season this year. A good balance between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is needed to guarantee a top product. Shipping is going according to plan, and there is ample product at sea to meet European demand.”

Charter vessel
“Transportation is hardly being affected by the corona crisis. Our parent company, New Zealand’s T&G, anticipated the container shortage and deployed a charter vessel. So, we are sure we will be able to meet the high demand,” says Didier.

“We are also currently experiencing few problems with harvesting. COVID-19 hit new Zealand too. But, the government took decisive action, and the industry itself took measures. Work in the orchards and packing plants could, therefore, continue.”

A flavor evolution
“One of New Zealand’s strong points as an apple exporter is its innovation in new varieties. A variety that can be sold in multiple markets offers more flexibility. The Braeburn, for example, is still a great variety because demand is mostly focused on English and German markets,” adds the Belgian wholesaler. “There are also very few expansion opportunities if, one year, the market is slightly lower. Other varieties that appeal to a wider audience offer more maneuverability. So, you can spread your risks better. The Jazz has become a fixture on the European, American, Asian, and New Zealand markets.”

“The distinctively sweet Envy apple is very popular in Asia, America, and Southern Europe. However, in recent months interest in this apple has grown in Northern Europe too,” says Didier. “We see a clear flavor evolution. More people want sweet apples.”

Record volume
This European season, a record volume of Jazz apples have been cultivated - more than 30,000 tons, spread across France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. At the end of the month, Jazz apples from New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa will be added. “Jazz apples have a nice sweet/sour ratio and crunchy flesh. This makes them a popular apple that can be sold on all markets.”

Coronavirus boosts demand for fruit and vegetables
“The coronavirus has impacted society as a whole, and we will continue to feel its effects. From the start of the crisis, fruit and vegetable consumption increased significantly. I think health is going to play an ever-important role in people’s way of life,” continues Didier.
“In the first two weeks of lockdown, the demand for apples skyrocketed. The demand was so high it was simply impossible to get everything packed on time. In the period after people stopped hoarding, sales fell to a healthy level. That afforded us the time to get everything packed and delivered.”

This year, says Groven, Enzafruit began bringing plastic-free packaging onto the market. “There is still a demand for conventional film trays, which we still have. But, this season, we have taken the first steps with plastic-free packaging for European Jazz and Envy apples. Not every buyer chooses the same packaging or system yet.”

“And we keep looking for different packaging solutions because there is always room for improvement. Plastic is not necessarily more durable than cardboard, so it is not always easy to make a choice. Certainly, in these corona times, much value is placed on packaging, and no one wants to make hasty decisions,” concludes Didier.

More information:
Didier Groven
Enzafruit New Zealand 
Tongersesteenweg 135
3800 Sint - Truiden (België)
+32 (0) 11 689 941
didier.groven@enzafruit.be   
www.jazzapple.com     


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