In Europe, the frost significantly damaged Spanish stone fruit crops. Wilko van der Zwaard of Wilko Fruit, in the Netherlands, nonetheless, does not foresee problems supplying clients. "Our strength lies in having suppliers in every Spanish stone fruit-growing region. That's now proving beneficial."
"There will be much less fruit coming onto the market, and since the settings weren't good, most of especially the first fruit will be much smaller. Eventually, the trees will bear larger fruit. That's because the poor settings mean less thinning is needed. But particularly supermarkets will have to take into account that they cannot follow last year's promotional calendar. That's been pushed back three to four weeks."
Spanish season follows overseas season up well
Wilko Fruit got its first stone fruits from Seville and Murcia [in Spain] two weeks ago. "We got flat peaches on Wednesday, and the first apricots arrived on Friday. Our stone fruit package is, thus, complete again. The overseas season is over, so these seasons followed each other perfectly. The weather still greatly affects stone fruit sales. The weather was beautiful throughout April and now at the start of May. That bodes well for these sales," says Wilko.
"Plus, the fruit looks good. We're in close contact with breeders and select the best varieties for our customers. Our suppliers pack these according to Gaudias brand quality specifications. The prices will be much higher than last year, but because the fruit's quite small, people get value for money. But the prices aren't so high as to hamper sales."
Flat peaches have apparently taken over regular peaches' share in recent years. That is, however, not the case at Wilko Fruit. "We still sell plenty of [regular] peaches. Flat peaches are just a 'new' addition to our package. We do expect more Platerinas on the market this year. These flat nectarines' true breakthrough has been delayed for a long time. The first varieties weren't of good quality. The newest ones, however, have a much denser core and we have high hopes for them. We should get the first of these in one month," continues Wilko.
Four generations of cherry specialization
"We'll be getting the first Spanish cherries today - 1kg packs of the Royal Tiogat variety. Again, the new varieties are replacing the older and softer Burlat types. We get these cherries from Agrupacion Valle de Jerte, the largest cherry cooperative in Spain. We work closely with them for retail programs and traditional 2kg packaging."
"But, we have close contact with specialists in other Spanish cherry-growing regions too. Cherries have been our specialty since 1934; that's four generations. We get them from all the countries of the world where cherries grow," Van der Zwaard says.
"Our range perhaps hasn't been as broad recently. However, our clients - retail first - increasingly want to work with specialists. We can honestly say that we are with stone fruit, which we market year-round. We have stone fruit buyers across the sector, from retail to wholesale and hospitality suppliers, at home and abroad."
Wilko Fruit leaves the choice of packaging to the customer. "Retail clients are moving more and more toward cardboard punnets, but that comes with a price. At the same time, they want to be competitive. We supply discount-type supermarkets as well as the higher segment and leave the choice of packaging to the store. They can then switch quickly if required," Wilko concludes.