In the Netherlands, the Christmas rush has begun at Yex. "Solid partnerships are more important than ever," begin Edwin van Leeuwen and Jeroen Groenewegen.
"We supply exotic fruit and vegetables from across the globe, focusing on surprising products. Products that let you serve something special, especially during the festive season," says Jeroen, who is Yex's marketing manager. "Even with the current economic uncertainty, there are plenty of opportunities for our unique products. Eating out is quite pricey; for a fraction of that price, you get a bounty of beautiful products you can use at home. And the great thing is you can use our products in all your festive meal courses. You don't even have to be a domestic god or goddess. Let us take care of dessert: a few colorful exotics and soft fruit, with ice cream on the side. That's always a winner. But, with our recipes, you could even dare try using exotics in the main course."
Traditional Christmas rush expected
Yex sells most of its products to wholesalers and retailers in the Netherlands and overseas. Besides the Netherlands, Germany, Eastern European countries, Austria, Switzerland, and, particularly, Scandanavia are major markets. "The Scandinavian countries import lots of fruit and vegetables and are also somewhat ahead of the rest of Europe in the fresh segment. They have a wider exotic fruit and vegetable range, too," adds Edwin van Leeuwen. At the time of writing, the commercial director had orders and planning for the Christmas holidays pouring in. "It has begun, and it seems to be getting traditionally busy again. Many of our products come from far away and need longer preparation. So, with most supermarkets, we do advanced planning."
"Products like mango, passion fruit, physalis, carambola, and pitahaya usually sell like hot cakes at Christmas. Not to mention pomegranates and figs. There's also extra high demand for sweet potatoes and legumes such as sugar snaps," says Edwin. Inflation is affecting Yex too, and there is a degree of uncertainty. "The sharp price increases are raising concerns, and consumers are becoming more cautious in their purchases. People will keep buying well-established products like mango and avocado."
"But once the festive season's over, specialty items will have a harder time. What does that mean for us? Good collaborations and joint programs are always important, even more so in times of economic uncertainty: keeping the chain as closed as possible, changing suppliers as little as possible, taking risks together, and, above all, jointly filling the opportunities as well as possible. In the coming period, we'll focus even more on strong partnerships, both with clients and suppliers, in which mutual trust is central," Edwin admits.
Expanding their consumer brand
"Still, we see growth opportunities," continues Jeroen. "People want healthier, more plant-based food. We can play a role in that. For example, with ideas on how to use our products with or without meat. So, in the new year, we'll continue expanding our Discovered consumer brand. It's growing strongly, but there's still plenty of room for expansion. We'll use appealing packaging, product information, and inspiration to keep drawing attention to our surprising products. Our website, www.discovered.nl, also shows increasingly more visitors from Germany and Scandinavia. It's good to see our recipes are widely used there, too," he explains.
Yex is not allowing the increasing aversion to flown-in fruit and vegetables to hinder it either. "Those developments give us more incentive to find better solutions; we owe that to our producers. It’s vital to get products to the Netherlands as sustainably as possible. More and more exotics are already arriving by boat. Products like figs, physalis, and passion fruit used to be flown in, but due to scale economies and quality and shelf life improvements, they now arrive by ship. That's more sustainable and affordable. We're also constantly looking for ways to source closer to home. All our papayas used to come from Brazil; now there's Spanish product available too," Edwin concludes.
Edwin van Leeuwen
Tel: +31 (0)174 214 550