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B&B Fruit bets on season extension with new line of blue varieties

"In the last five years, we couldn't meet the demand for plums"

At B&B Fruit, the largest plum grower in the Netherlands, harvest has already started on some early plots on the sandy soils. "These are still small volumes. We will start the traditional harvest at the end of next week," says Marinus Bunt. According to the plum grower, the harvest varies greatly from plot to plot. "One plot is wetter than the other. Because of the wet circumstances, some trees are dead, but I do think we will get to a harvest of 70-80%."

"The good news is that the flavour is fantastic. The fruits have not dried up and the nice weather came just in time. We do have some hail damage, but virtually the whole of the Netherlands suffered from that. We will sometimes have to tolerate some cosmetic defects," Marinus soberly observes. "At our farm in Poland, we have more frost damage. There, we will have to buy goods from elsewhere to serve our domestic retail customers."

Marinus and Frederik Bunt.

Three years back, B&B opened a new 2,000 m² sorting and packing station in Herveld with a new stone fruit sorting machine. "We are very happy with this. Because the machine looks for internal and external quality, we are able to meet specific customer requirements and even sort out ready-to-eat plums automatically," says Marinus.

The latest innovation introduced by the company is the Pluk-O-Trak, a harvester that has long been used in top fruit and which Bunt had adapted for plum harvesting. Six pickers stand at different heights on the machine and place the plums on a conveyor belt. The fruit then rolls onto a main belt and then ends up in a large collection bin. "With rising labour costs, we do everything possible to process many kilos as efficiently and pleasantly as possible."

Marketing-wise, the grower sees no problem. "That has not been a problem in recent years. We have been able to market more plums than we've had available for the last five years. We supply most of the big supermarkets in the Netherlands. We also have a number of country shops and private vegetable shops as customers, and we have our own agent in Finland for sales in Scandinavia."

As the only company of its kind in the Netherlands, B&B fruit covers all links in the plum chain within one company, from tree planting, fruit production, sorting and packaging to selling the fresh plums. "In recent years, we have invested heavily in expanding the line of black varieties. We have such a beautiful old Dutch product, it's just a pity that availability is a limiting factor."

"But when we have a larger commercial planting, we see great sales opportunities if we can extend the season. Over the past decade, we have been searching for new varieties of black plums. We now have over 25,000 trees in our nursery. Eventually, in the future, we want to be at the market with our black varieties from the beginning of July to the end of October. Now we are able to extend the season by about five weeks for a few customers, and we would like to roll that out more widely. But this won't come about overnight," Marinus concludes.

For more information:
Marinus Bunt
B&B Fruit
Schoolstraat 2
6674 AK Herveld
+31 (0)6 225 28 117
[email protected]

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