The Belgian top fruit season has got off to a smooth start, observes Laurent De Smedt, Division Head of Hard Fruit at BelOrta. "In pears, we have even seen an increase in prices in recent weeks. The first cells for longer storage are now opening and it is good to see that customers are prepared to pay a premium for this."
"The volumes in pears are good, but at the moment demand is greater than supply and we are even short of sorting capacity. Sales are very broad, especially in the countries surrounding us. A lot of pears are going to Italy, for example, where they have a small harvest, and we also see that Germany, which in previous years mainly ordered 1 kg punnets in smaller sizes, now also has orders for single layer boxes with the larger sizes (70/75 mm) and that is a very welcome addition this year."
"In apples, although we are seeing a higher volume than last year, the harvest is not higher than the long-term average. In addition, there is a smooth sale of the lesser qualities to the industry. Because the best price for the apple is made domestically, we hope that the supermarkets will again cooperate well to give the higher volume a good place with promotions. After all, exporting apples is a tougher story under pressure from the cheaper apples from the east," Laurent notes.
BelOrta also started selling the club varieties this month. Both the Kanzi® apple and the Migo® pear are available in abundance again. "The quality is good and both varieties are being purchased quickly again", says the Head of the Top Fruit Division.
This week, the first container with Conference pears from BelOrta arrived in China. For the third year in a row, the cooperative is exporting Conference pears to the Chinese mainland. The container arrived at the port of Shanghai. To promote the Conference pear, BelOrta, in cooperation with partner Goodfarmer, is organising in-store tastings.
BelOrta first cooperated with Goodfarmer in 2018 to introduce the BelOrta Conference pear in China. By combining Goodfarmer's market knowledge with BelOrta's product expertise, the company aims to make the Conference pear a must-have in Chinese supermarkets. The volume has been increasing year on year since the start of the partnership.
"The Conference pear differs from Chinese pears in colour and shape. Nevertheless, once tried, the Chinese consumer appears to have a preference for the taste and texture of Belgian pears," says Laurent. "Unlike Asian pears, the Conference pear has its unique characteristically elegant shape. Moreover, the pear can be eaten hard and crispy as well as soft and sweet. And because Conference pears are available in China from October to February, they are a perfect complement to the Chinese pear season."