Exofi is expecting its first French green kiwis in around mid-November. "The kiwis will only be sent once they have a 9% Brix level", says Jan Vermeiren of this Belgian company. "The French kiwis are known for their high Brix value, large sizes, and high quality. It's a true niche product and very popular in Belgium. Belgians are very demanding when it comes to kiwis and prefer large fruit. The Italian and Greek kiwis often can't meet these requirements."
“The French kiwis are processed in a one-of-a-kind way. When the containers filled with picked kiwis arrive, they're first sorted by size. In this way, they can see which grower delivers which size and quality. The kiwis' sugar and dry matter content are immediately tested. Even before the season starts, I know which sizes I will get. The kiwis are cooled in a targeted way, which is a unique process. That gives us a big advantage because we can make targeted programs in advance."
The French kiwis are, however, harvested a month later than their Italian or Greek counterparts. That's due to the climate. "Italy has a large kiwi acreage. But there is early night frost in many regions. So, they have to harvest their kiwis early. In France, the kiwis are grown in a region with a micro-climate. Temperatures there are about ten degrees [celcius] higher than in other areas. This allows the kiwis to hang on the trees much longer. Their taste and size are, therefore, much better," says Jan.
Shortage of large sizes
“This year, the kiwis, unfortunately, struggled to reach good sizes. Even New Zealand currently has a shortage of nice big green kiwis. This is a result of switching from green to yellow kiwi cultivation. In recent years, many farmers have switched to yellow kiwis. So, there are shortages in the green variety."
Jan only has green kiwis in his assortment. "There are yellow kiwis, but I'm not a big fan of them. Yellow kiwis are a hybrid and not a natural product. That's why I stick with green kiwis. French green kiwis, with their high sugar content, are also a lot tastier. More so than sour green kiwis from other countries," concludes Jan.