Over the years, Smets Food Trading's activities have changed considerably. "We used to trade everything. Nowadays, we try to do a few things well," says Peter Smets. This Dutch agency is, for example, doing well with stone fruit from the Balkan region. "This is where we can really differentiate ourselves on the market."
Smets Food Trading's main product assortment now includes Balkan apricots, baking plums, and cherries. The key to success, according to Peter, is having a local presence. "My colleague René Kraaijeveld visits all the growers every day during this time. So, he can select the lots that meet our customers' specifications. Without that local presence, things are bound to go wrong."
"We deliberately chose not to enter the Spanish stone fruit 'battlefield'. There, everyone wants to be the cheapest and the best at the same time." This year, Balkan stone fruit is clearly benefitting from the lower European productions. "Demand is excellent. We can therefore introduce many clients to these fruits from the Balkans."
Smets Food Trading has a few buyers in Belgium, France, and Germany. But, 90% of its clientele is Dutch. "We're more of an importer than an exporter. We much prefer Dutch exporters to call us. Rather than us having to conquer export markets ourselves. We have a new location in Fresh Park Venlo in the Netherlands. We've been there since last year. That's ideal, logistically," Peter explains.
Smets Food Trading's specialty includes the Durama-like watermelon. "Currently we import them mainly from Greece and Italy. Last year we imported these melons from Albania. But they're not attractive at the moment. That's because the Greek and Italian ones are relatively cheap. But that could change quickly. Last month, watermelon sales lagged, and the preseason was also difficult. However, with the nice weather, sales are picking up quickly now."
"We get several loads of watermelons every day. And even more of Balkan stone fruit. Here, we have an advantage - most of the products we buy already have clients. That may limit volumes, but you're never stuck with stocks. At worst, you may be a little less busy for a week," concludes Peter.