It is kiwi berry season at Coöperatie Hoogstraten in Belgium. This exotic snack fruit is usually back on store shelves from early September through October. "However, this year's season will be much shorter; we could only harvest the expected volumes," says this Belgian cooperative's Natalie Snijers.
The main culprit? The recent heatwave. "The drought and heat severely damaged the kiwi berries. That, combined with a declining acreage, has resulted in significantly smaller volumes. That means the local market season will only last about three weeks this year."
The cooperative works with about 15 growers who cultivate these berries in Belgium and the Netherlands. "Unlike traditional kiwis, which need a warm climate, kiwi berries can be grown locally without any problems when using the correct cultivation techniques," explains Natalie.
"Also, this crop is highly disease and pest-resistant. They've been in our assortment for ten years now. And we've done plenty already to bring this fruit to people's attention. This year, too, we're having many promotions to provide these bite-sized vitamin bombs their well-deserved place alongside the well-known berry varieties," Natalie continues.
Hoogstraten is thrilled with this season's quality. "Naturally, there's damage, but the berries taste delicious. We also sort strictly to ensure that only the best quality ends up in supermarkets. An optical system sorts the kiwi berries by size, skin quality, color, and ripeness." These berries have all the properties needed to become a true Belgian and Dutch success story. "Demand certainly isn't bad either. Kiwi berries are healthy and bite-sized and, so, fit in perfectly with the convenience trend and this back-to-school period," Natalie concludes.