In the Netherlands, tunnel production of forced rhubarb is in full swing at De Rond Agro. "At the beginning of last week, I still thought it would be quiet, but the warm (night) temperatures gave the plants a boost, so the rush has started," says Rob de Rond.
De Rond Agro supplies rhubarb almost year-round throughout Europe. "Heading towards Easter, we're delighted they've come into production so nicely. All fruits and vegetables sales always climb toward the holidays, which certainly applies to rhubarb." Rob does, however, see price fluctuations in the market. "Day trade prices have pulled away slightly in recent days," he says.
"Customers are holding back a little more with more luxurious products. Market forces mean people are somewhat more cautious when prices are a bit higher and will leave rhubarb. If a lack of demand then makes prices drop, it sells in large quantities. And then prices rise again. It's a roller coaster sometimes because so much depends on demand. We hope sales will pick up more."
But, it remains to be seen what the market will do in the coming period, Rob explains. "There are few supply side problems. The less-good weather caused some concern, but in reality, it hasn't been that bad. Quality-wise, there's certainly nothing to complain about, either. However, more rhubarb is coming loose everywhere, which, of course, affects the market. We'll have to wait and see how that will develop," he says.
De Rond Agro will keep forcing rhubarb until late April/early May. From next week, this can be found on Jumbo shelves again. This is the first Dutch supermarket chain to offer forced rhubarb. The growing company also supplies The Greenery, among others. "They've developed a completely new box, in their house style, for this." In May, Rob will switch back to open-field rhubarb production.
Not yet a well-known personality
To give consumers and buyers a glimpse into farm life, De Rond Agro began a vlog called Rondjebijderond on its social media channels in early December. This is getting nice reactions, says the grower. "I'm suddenly famous, though. I certainly don't need to be. It's just that people easily forget what's involved, and then it's nice to teach them something about where their food comes from. Especially in these busy times for us. People are interested, too, and ask about it, which is nice, and why we did it," Rob concludes.
For more information:
Rob de Rond
De Rond Agro
4741 TC, Hoeven, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 165 312 314