Netherlands: Hard fruit sector optimistic in spite of small crops

It is no secret that the production of apples and pears is dramatic this season. Apart from Poland, that had a sizable crop, harvests in the rest of Europe were dreadful.

Jan Timmermans of hard fruit export C.G. Timmermans expects the season to be tough, but isn’t despairing: “It’s true we have had a bad season, but we shouldn’t exaggerate either; it has happened before. Ten years ago we had the exact same quantities.”

Timmermans admits that Holland has lost some ground when it comes to international trade. “Apples go through difficult times right now. They are being cultivated worldwide and almost everywhere the wages and the production costs are lower than down here. So we must thrive on our professionalism, our quality and our varieties. Cultivating cheap quantities is something they can do anywhere. Poland is already supplying people with those. We have a reputation to uphold.”

Not that Jan Timmermans isn’t critical about the advance of club varieties. “The first one to come up with it by marketing the Pink Lady is still the most successful internationally. After that, a lot of growers tried to score by calling their apples ‘club variety’. You could say that those inferior varieties polluted the market. But by sticking to quality we could still make it work.”

Timmermans is more optimistic about pears. “Our Conferences are just great and can compete with any pear anywhere in the world. Besides, Belgium and Holland are the only ones still committed to pears. Other places seem to be sceptical. That means the markets could be facing a shortage in the near future.” All in all, Timmermans is optimistic about the hard fruit sector. “I see so many opportunities that I regret I’m not 30 years younger."

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