Mushroom and top fruit trading are in the Verhoeckx's genes. Dad, Paul, does mushroom sales while one son, Brent, is responsible for fruit sales. His brother, Rick, and sister, Danique, also work at this Dutch company. We visited this family business, where last year's COVID-19 outbreak brought in extra sales. "We've sold five to ten percent more," says Brent.
Paul and Brent Verhoeckx.
He says there's currently a clear distinction between apples and pears. "Apples are scarce, and their prices are excellent this year. The Jonagold, Red Prince, and Golden Delicious quality is especially good. The Elstar we have now are also of good quality. But I think we'll have run out of this variety in two months. That will bring the season to an early end. Pear prices aren't too high at the moment, but the quality is good too this year."
"We have a wide range of varieties. We're sorting more and more Wellant apples, for example. These are delicious but have a high drop-out rate. So, they won't easily replace the Jonagold. That seems to be the strongest apple throughout the year. This year, it's also difficult to guarantee the Elstar will be of high quality all year. In other years we've succeeded, but it will be tough this year. There's still some in storage here and there, but it's just not enough. As soon as the quality declines, we'll stop stocking these," Brent says.
Norway, top export destination
With fruit, Verhoeckx concerns itself mainly with Dutch wholesale sales. But, for mushrooms, local and overseas supermarket are their biggest clients. "Norway has been our top export destination for 35 years. Fortunately, that trade is still going strong," says Paul. Within their wide range of mushrooms, he sees an increasing demand for chestnut mushrooms. "There are a lot more promotions with those."
According to the trader, mushroom acreage has been stable in recent years. "The big growers are getting bigger, and the smaller ones are dropping out. And this consolidation is only continuing. In our experience, there's a greater understanding among supermarkets. They've come to realize that additional, sustainable packaging or certification comes at a price. Years ago, the discussion was more about only the price."
Verhoeckx packages its mushrooms in recyclable plastic. "Our modern machines can put caps on, seal, top seal, or flow pack any product. "Top sealing is particularly popular." Although the demand for cardboard packaging is also increasing, Paul's not too keen on it. "It's all well and good, but after two days in the refrigerator, the packaging softens. That's why we prefer durable PET film," he says.
The Verhoeckx family is optimistic about the company's future. "We want to do what we're best at - selling great products. As a family business, we have an advantage. Everyone wants to go that extra mile. We have room to grow too and have space for many more goods. We're all going to work hard on that," concludes Brent.