With the big advertising campaigns featuring Dutch chefs Herman den Blijker, Rens Kroes and others, legumes can count on renewed interest from the consumer. Mangetouts, sugar snaps, haricots verts, butter beans. They all piggyback on the attention for this product group. William Sonneveld of FV Seleqt expects significant growth in this segment in the coming years.
“Legumes are a real trend,” William says. “There’s a lot of attention for them from foodies, and the campaigns will definitely give sales a boost. That’s very positive for us. I really expect a growth in this category in the coming years.” The main countries for mangetouts, sugar snaps and the haricots verts are Kenya, Guatemala and Zimbabwe. In addition, FV Seleqt imports from Egypt and Peru.
Delayed supplies Guatemala
Supplies of the products are very much weather-dependent. Last year, for instance, Guatemala was on the market earlier with mangetouts and sugar snaps. This years, the season lags behind due to El Niño. The season was supposed to start in week 45, but William is only expecting the first products in week 49 or 50. Kenya and Zimbabwe are only able to compensate this shortage to a limited extent. “In Kenya, you face a rainy season, and in Zimbabwe it’s simply too warm,” William explains. “So from week 43 on, the market has seen a shortage of mangetouts and sugar snaps for five weeks.”
Due to the late start of the season in Guatemala, shortages arose in recent weeks. “We see demand is high at the moment,” William says. “Due to the shortage in the market, parties were without. Add to that the peak before Christmas.” For the haricots verts, supply is more stable. “They have good availability year-round,” William continues. “The rainy season in Kenya does come into play, but that’s mainly a problem for logistics.” The roads and fields turn into a mud pool, making supply more difficult.
United Kingdom biggest market
The main markets are Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and France. The big frontrunner for mangetouts and sugar snaps is the United Kingdom. “The market is much more developed than in the Netherlands there. We do see demand from the Netherlands increasing, but the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia are far bigger.”
“Retail in the United Kingdom is generally a frontrunner anyway, and is considered an example for many chains,” William knows. “The fresh produce range in those supermarkets is much wider. The Dutch consumer is more cautious. Although you do see a shift there as well, for instance with the new Markthal, where there is more attention for special products.”
Purple mangetout and butter bean
Another way to get the consumer to eat legumes, is by responding to perception. In addition to the regular green mangetout, FV Seleqt grows a purple variety on its own fields in Kenya. An “old” variety is also seeing a revival: the butter bean. “This is a big product in France,” William says. The butter bean is also popular in Scandinavia. “The bean is grown in the summer months there, but in the winter months it’s too cold. So with produce from Guatemala, we can service this market during the winter months.”