Kiem-X specializes in sprouts, which is a niche market. The last two years have, therefore, been challenging for this Belgian company. 'Hopeful', however, is what the company's Wim Bouden mainly feels. "The holidays were boring. At this point, we're happy when we break even. We hope the restrictions will largely be lifted by Easter. Then, as the weather improves, people can gather and the market will pick up,"
Sprouts are mostly consumed when groups of people gather. "Think of weddings, barbecues, holidays, or the hospitality industry. People are quicker to pull out all the stops when they can gather in large groups. That's where our product is in highest demand."
"But everything is currently cautiously organized. Celebrations are held in limited numbers and aren't as extravagant either. Eateries are open until 11 p.m. in Belgium. But, no sensible person will spend three nights a week at a restaurant," Wim adds.
Kiem-X's new germination drum for alfalfa seeds
Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. So, Wim is optimistic about the future. "Things are moving in the right direction. It's already better than last year. And I'm extremely hopeful for the coming year. Virologists are cautiously optimistic. We just have to get over this wave, and people must get their booster shots. Then, the spring promises to be great. And summer will be normal. That's exactly when our sprouts are most in-demand."
Bouden finds it hard to define the current sprout market. "The market hasn't been normal for two years now. So, there's not much to say about it at the moment. Unusually, red radish sprouts are particularly popular. These are doing very well in, for example, sandwiches at the largest Belgian chain. These sprouts are making a strong comeback. And leek sprouts remain the classics," he explains.
"Our assortment now includes garlic sprouts. These very aromatic sprouts certainly wouldn't be out of place in any festive meal."
The company has invested more in its sprout germinating capacity. "We bought two new germination drums from Tennessee," Wim concludes.
These will allow for increased capacity. Kiem-X can also anticipate the higher demand it expects to start in April. That is when things should get back to normal.