Wibo van den Ende, Vita Optima:

"As soon as the grapes arrive, they're sold"

The challenge in the current grape market lies more with the supply chain than sales. So says Wibo van den Ende of Vita Optima in the Netherlands. "The whole supply chain's tricky. The pandemic is affecting the availability of pickers. There are other challenges too. From available refrigeration in South Africa to container loading space. And then there's the rain and cold weather."

"In other years, lots of grapes arrived from week three to six. Not now. The year is stable, quality-wise, too. Everything coming in is sold immediately. Prices are higher than in previous seasons."

"And despite the lockdowns, the market price is holding up well. The same is true for other imports, like blueberries," says Wibo (pictured on the right, with colleague Arnoud Keijzer).

"Traditional varieties continue to do well. That's when it comes to South African variety supplies. Some of the newer varieties are being discontinued. They don't perform well enough. I think the ARRA varieties, such as 13, 14, and 15, are good additions to the market." According to Wibo, there is still a very limited organic grape demand. "No major retailers ask for it. The four-week transit time doesn't lend itself well to organic grapes either."

"For a few years, it was thought white grapes' share would decline. But these still make up the grape supply's bulk. We sell a lot of mixed grapes too. I expect the market to continue as is, partly thanks to the stable quality. Aside from South Africa, Peru is currently a major player in the grape market. And India will be back from week 6/7. Concerning packaging, the trend towards less plastic continues. For example, there's ever-more topseal packaging and  printed, paper bags."

Vita Optima has been working with PPO Services AG since 2018. Last year, this good cooperation was taken a step further. These companies began a joint venture. Vita Optima takes care of the supply chain services needed for sea container imports. They also see to the pre-and repacking (including flow- and topseal) and distribution from the Netherlands. That is on behalf of PPO Services and various other customers in Europe and beyond. This concerns conventional, organic, and Fair Trade certified produce.

"We hope this step leads to us growing further. That is as a commercial importer and service provider, especially for supermarket programs. We supply retailers in Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. Thanks to the joint venture, PPO does sales in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Spain. This partnership means we expanded nicely last year. That was not only with grapes, but citrus, berries, mangoes, and avocados too," Wibo concludes.

For more information:
Wibo van den Ende
Vita Optima b.v.
224 Klappolder
2665 MR, Bleiswijk, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 610 002 872
Email: wibo@vitaoptimabv.com 
Website: www.vitaoptimabv.com 

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