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Netherlands: “Organic needs to get rid of needless packaging”

“The organic fruit sector has become much more professional,” says Peter Abma, founder of Organic Fruit & Vegetables and active in the sector since 2000. “When I started, organic was really taking off. Professionals were just starting to take it seriously. And we take it seriously: we only work with growers we know, and we check regularly.”

Organic Fruits & Vegetables specializes in organic citrus, kiwis, apples and pears. “We are having some issues with the pears,” says Abma, “due to frost in February, but the kiwis are doing excellent. Citrus take some special care, organically speaking. Because they can’t be sprayed with preservatives they have to be sold faster.”

Abma is convinced there is still profit to be made in the sector. There are relatively few ready-to-eat products available. And the taste can still be improved upon. “The moment of harvesting is very important for the quality of the taste. Many consumers claim that organic tastes better than conventional, and who are we to argue?”

Another issue is the packaging. As Abma explains, organic products need to be packaged according to regulations, in order to distinguish themselves from regular products. “In some countries, a simple sticker suffices, but in Holland there is a lot of needless wrapping material. There’s room for improvement there. On the other hand, biodegradable packaging may add as much as 25 cents to a product. If we can bring those costs down, people might be even more moved to buy organic.”

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