As of January 1, 2023, FruitMasters will no longer be doing auction sales. The Dutch cooperative shared this news with its growers and buyers last week. Spokesman Tim Kievits confirms the new strategy. "Over the last 30 years, demand has changed. The market increasingly wants customer-specific packaging and concepts the auction can no longer fill. Both our members and clients are opting for continuity," he begins.
"Supplying fruit supply is, thus, moving away from the clock toward commercial deals. In recent years, we've discussed this trend frequently with our growers, Supervisory Board, and buyers. That's why we'll stop using the auction as a sales channel next year. Our commercial organization is ready to continue serving customers and current day trade buyers. Our focal point - to match up clients and products - remains unchanged."
"This isn't a rash decision. In 1904, 34 of the area's growers founded 'Veiling Vereeniging Geldermalsen,' and we proudly and respectfully reflect on what the auction has meant for our cooperative in almost 120 years. But we must also pay close attention to our national and international buyers' demands," Tim continues.
"Today's fruit sales are increasingly taking place by programmed appointment with fewer physical visits to the auction. Plus, our members expect their total supply to be processed for maximum optimal returns. To best meet market demand, we're, therefore, aligning with these market developments."
FruitMasters sees plenty of chances and possibilities for its existing as well as new customers. "We'd like to see if our current auction buyers' wishes fit into our commercial model. Buyers can still view the products beforehand, so they know what they're getting. New, well-connected members have strengthened the sales team. So, we're looking forward to this new chapter ahead," Tim explains.
The cooperative will hold its final auction on December 23, 2022.
Buyer Kees Verheij's reaction
Kees Verheij has been buying at the FruitMasters' auction for 50 years. First as a wholesaler and later as a broker. He considers this step a dramatic decision. "It wasn't a complete surprise; the idea's been buzzing around for some time, but I think it's extremely short-sighted. Tens of millions are being invested in buildings, but they can't spare 1.5 million for the auction. And they're appointing new salespeople; apparently, there's money for that," was Kees' reaction.
"The buyers are aging, but that's also because fewer wares are being sold at auction. You have to keep the offer attractive, of course, while it's eroded over the years. I believe the auction is still the fairest selling tool. I've spoken to some suppliers too, who, like me, think that through mediation, prices won't peak anymore. They will dip, though, and by no means will everything be sold and thus destroyed. That will result in a lower average price, benefitting wholesalers and allowing them to make even more profit on fruit and vegetable products."
Kees estimates that, on Wednesdays and Fridays, there are still 20 buyers at auction. He still buys fruit for eight to ten customers. "I must admit, between January to March, I sometimes pay more for gas than the trade I buy. However, especially in the summer, we haul away a lot of fruit. I don't think this move will have much impact on my business. I'm already 70. Though, I would've liked to keep it up for another decade or so. But, for day trading in general, I think it's a bad thing," he concludes.