Fruit and vegetable exports to overseas markets like the Middle East, Singapore, and Hong Kong are picking up nicely. That is according to Ruud Krul of the Dutch company Freshclusive. "It's more attractive to ship trade again due to the tariff drop. That works in our favor," he begins.
"Exports to other destinations, such as North America, however, are still lagging slightly. That market currently still has plenty of Mexican and Canadian products. We expect to start exporting mainly bell peppers to North America in a few weeks, but, at present, we're still only supplying complementary products when required to those markets. It's great that we can already fulfill that need.''
"The Japanese market is the same. We've sent the first shipments there, but the true volumes won't be released until later in the summer. We should export a lot more to Japan this year. Last year's tariffs were too high for that, but those rates are now back to pre-pandemic levels," says Ruud.
"Local production keeps expanding in places like the Middle East. That increases competition, but if there are local products, you must ensure you're better and can supply different types, varieties, and colors than are locally available. That's quite challenging because even local growers now know where to find mostly Dutch seed breeders. Fortunately, our huge product range and focus on special varieties help us stand out. We also continue innovating with new product(s), packaging, and labels."
"Plus, it's an advantage that we export a wide mix of products to markets like the Middle East, but also Singapore and Hong Kong. Volume-wise, specialty tomatoes and lettuce varieties are the largest items, but we're best known for our complex distribution. That sometimes involves a few boxes of edible flowers, star fruit, and herbs in one delivery. Offering mixed pallets is, therefore, a tremendous benefit, too; we can give customers all the products they want, in the volumes they want, in the most efficient way," Ruud explains.
"You'll always have competition, but we don't consider that a problem. Countries are increasingly adopting the strategy of consolidating all trade in a single warehouse. But, the Netherlands continues to have a huge logistical advantage. It's easier to get a pallet of wares from a grower in the middle of the country to Aalsmeer in North Holland than from Bordeaux to Paris. Dutch distances are always smaller. Also, we're shipping more and more products from our growers worldwide directly to clients; we find efficiency vital, too."
This spring, Freshclusive opened its new site with a 4,500m2 refrigerated warehouse, eight docks, and 300m2 office space in Aalsmeer. "This new location is great. Though 2022 was a fantastic year, this new building is truly wonderful. When we started, we couldn't have dreamed we'd be where we are now," Ruud concludes.