Tovano's assortment has increased noticeably over the years. It now consists of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, chocolate items, and other snack products. However, according to this Dutch company's director, Richard Strijbis, raw nuts still make up the bulk of that range.
"Walnuts, for example, remain very popular. The Chilean crop is currently on its way again. The in-shell walnut volume is decreasing somewhat, but the shelled ones are still a winner. The same goes for almonds and dates, which we import from all over the world," he begins.
A few years ago, Tovano started with a new South African line a few years ago within its dried fruit category. Dried pineapple, apple, peach, and banana soon followed mango in the range. "This fruit's strength lies in having no added sugars, only natural ones. The typical South African presentation genuinely completes the product."
But this dried fruit and nut company does a brisk trade in products like physalis and mulberries too. "It seems these are experiencing a revival among consumers. The great thing is that we have a solution for every meal. Our products are used for breakfast, lunch, as a school snack, and during sports. There's increasing attention to their health benefits, so I don't see consumption decreasing any time soon either. For instance, our cashews are a perfect meat substitute for the vegan target group. We just need to get that across a little more," says Richard.
Tovano serves a broad client base. "We supply local and overseas retail organizations, fruit and vegetable exporters, industrial food-processing companies, the hospitality sector, wholesalers, and vendors. This breadth can have the disadvantage of sometimes lacking focus, but it also has major advantages. Our broad assortment means we're extremely flexible, and we spread our risk."
That becomes apparent during times like the COVID-19 pandemic when sales to its hospitality and cruise ship segment stagnated. Tovano's retail buyers, however, effortlessly took these over. "The hospitality industry has since gotten back in full swing. The pandemic affected logistics the most. It still does," says the nut merchant.
"We serve clients throughout Europe, as far away as Ukraine. Sometimes directly, but if our exporting customers carry any of our lines, we don't interfere. Exports to the United Kingdom have taken a noticeable hit since the Brexit. In contrast, sales to Germany and the Scandinavian countries have only grown."
"What's good is that in the Netherlands, too, several wholesalers are becoming more and more serious about dried fruit and nuts. They see these products have great margins. It used to be a peripheral range, but companies increasingly realize they can make good money with it," Richard concludes.