In the Netherlands, ZON fruit & vegetables has again begun auctioning the first Spanish vegetables. That was in week 43. By now, that supply has increased significantly. "All the cooperatives that supply us are going to give us Spanish vegetables again this season. We're still trying to find some expansions," says Auction Manager Els van Herpen.
"As we do every year, we began gradually. We consider our Dutch supply well, so there's a slight overlap. Then there's no supply gap. For example, the Dutch bell pepper season is now over. So we're getting plenty of Spanish bell peppers in this week. Peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants are the largest volume products. The acreage of vine tomatoes in Spain declines annually. It, thus, remains to be seen what volume we'll get. But we also have winter crops from our Dutch growers. So, there shouldn't be any supply gaps for those products."
New this year - Spanish cucumbers will arrive in folding trays as well as boxes. And mini bok choy has also been added to the Spanish auction range. Expansion into import products from other countries of origin is not currently on the agenda, says Els. "For the import package, we fully focus on Spain. Of course, we want to further expand the auction range. But that must be in line with customer demand. And with our members' supply and the current Spanish range."
"Our Spanish supply has an advantage. We have an inspector onsite in Almeria who checks the products before they're loaded. So, we can guarantee the quality from the start. The market situation is somewhat variable in the season's first weeks. Cucumbers and eggplants started off doing well. That demand has declined somewhat."
"The bell pepper season, on the other hand, started out difficult. That was because there was still Dutch product on the market. Also, customers still had it in stock. Thus, there was little demand from our clients. Zucchini also had a difficult start, but that market is now picking up again," explains Els.
According to Van Herpen, the Spanish product auction buyers consist mainly of Dutch and German wholesalers and foodservice suppliers. "When there's scarcity in the market, the larger exporters, too, buy a lot at auction. When the global pandemic first hit, many auction buyers traded from home or the office for a little while. That was via our Webclock. Some of them continue to do so for now."
"But there are those who returned to the floor as soon as they could. Those clients combine that with watching products being auctioned in the morning. There aren't yet as many buyers in the bidding hall as during pre-COVID times. It's still an uncertain time in the trade, especially now. Dutch eateries have to close early. The effect of those measures on the trade will become evident in the coming weeks," Else concludes.