"Summer fruits were doing great in early June," says Michel van den Berg of the Dutch wholesaler, Best AGF. "Strawberry prices were high. But the fruit sold because people were yearning for the sun." The weather has been unpredictable. Soft fruit sales lagged during the rainy, cold spring. "People wanted hot chocolate, not strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, melons, or nectarines." Production of particularly outdoor strawberries also lagged due to the weather conditions. There was plenty of other soft fruit, like raspberries and blackberries.
At the beginning of June, these mostly still come from greenhouses. Michel's optimistic about the summer fruit season. He thinks eateries will reopen fully. And he's counting on customers from the hospitality wholesalers he supplies. Part of his revenue comes from that sector. Despite that, the trader had a good year in 2020. "We've never sold as much as during the first lockdown. The markets stayed open, and people visited greengrocers more to avoid supermarkets. So last year's first few months were excellent."
He thinks the increased COVID-19 trade will last, certainly at greengrocers. "I think consumers have found their way there. They've noticed that the greengrocer's little strawberries taste better. And the nice, large, loose cherries, too, are tastier than those in containers at supermarkets. They also get great service. Greengrocers' quality is simply better. A good greengrocer still has a rightful place in the world," Michael concludes.
He says there is, however, also a limit to what Dutch shoppers will pay for quality. He says there's demand for pricier premium products, But there's also a need for somewhat more favorably priced bulk goods. To help a broad customer base, Best AGF focuses on both sides of the market. The wholesaler mainly supplies the hospitality industry and its suppliers. As well as fruit and vegetable specialists, smaller supermarkets and market vendors. It focuses primarily on Dutch products for Dutch clients.
Michel van den Berg
De Best AGF
+31 (0)6 23728028