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Jonathan de Quartel (Exotic Roots) about increasing niche exotics sales:

"We already need a bigger building with cold storage"

The Dutch company, Exotic Roots does not do mainstream exotics like avocados and sweet potatoes. "We're active in niche exotics and can, thus, distinguish ourselves in the market," says account manager Jonathan de Quartel.

Jonathan, who used to be a recruiter, got talking with Tim Struckman, Exotic Roots' commercial director. Jonathan thought it such a good idea that a few months later, he switched to the fruit and vegetable sector. By now, de Quartel feels well at home. "It feels like I've been in the business for years. I take care of the sales to European wholesalers; a colleague does the same for the retailers. We sell to countries all over Europe and regularly add a new one."

Jonathan with a fresh load of Mexican jackfruit

"We now import from nine countries - Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Uganda, Jordan, and India. If at all possible, we buy directly from the source. By avoiding intermediaries, we can deliver fast, fresh trade and keep customer prices friendly. We also offer a nice assortment from Spain. That includes Karela, Bird's Eye chili, Chinese bitter melon, and eggplants from our own cultivation," Jonathan explains.

Honduran okra is one of the company's main products. "We have good cultivation partners and get a stable supply every week. We get a lot of demand for okra; we're really known for that in the market now. The supply of Spanish okra is also increasing. So, that from Honduras is shifting a little more into the background."

Okra from Honduras and Ataulfo mangoes from Mexico

Mexican Jackfruit is another of Exotic Roots' big items. These can weigh up to 25kg each. "We set up this line six months ago. Many wholesalers aren't yet very familiar with jackfruit. But, it's now catching on well within our target group," says Jonathan. Mangoes complete the company's top three. "We get a lot of Mingolo mangoes from the Dominican Republic. That season is now almost over. As an alternative, we have Ataulfo mangoes from Mexico."

The summer vacation is fast approaching, so niche exotics sales have, as usual, declined a little this week. "But that also provides opportunities. We've grown so much in the past six months that we didn't get around to everything," he continues. "Now that things are a little quieter, we can focus on preparing for the coming season."

"Air freight's high cost is currently one of our biggest challenges. It's, thus, a continuous quest to optimize the supply chain. We're also looking for a new location. We haven't been here for long, but we already need more space, with cold storage. Preferably at a fruit and vegetable hotspot like Poeldijk or Maasdijk," Jonathan concludes.

Voor meer informatie:
Jonathan de Quartel
Exotic Roots
Mob: +31 (0) 645 897 568 

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