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Jan Kraaijeveld, Refruit:

"We convert containers full of rejected avocados into high-quality oil every week"

After working in the fruit and vegetable trade for about twenty years, Jan Kraaijeveld stepped into the world of processing rejected avocados into high-quality oil a year and a half ago. "We understand better than anyone how annoying it is to be stuck with rejected fruit, but the fact that the product flow started so quickly was beyond my wildest dreams. Last summer, we could no longer keep up with the amount of product coming our way. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day for us too."

In December, therefore, the production capacity was doubled with an extra production line. "We now process a significant volume of avocados per week. The Dutch importers found us immediately, but we also receive plenty of rejected avocados from France, Belgium, and Germany, and soon we will also start from the United Kingdom. By now, we have 80-90% of the avocado importers as customers. For importers, it's a solution because they can get rid of their rejected avocados within 24 hours. We pick up the product, pay quickly, and convert it into valuable oil at our location in Ridderkerk," says Jan.

Win-win situation
"With some importers, we make fixed price agreements for the whole year, these are mostly parties that ripen and package and provide us with product weekly. We pick up the full bins and return the empty ones. A typical win-win situation. Otherwise, disposal costs money and it's unnecessary to let so much fruit go to waste, while we can make high-quality avocado oil. Then, there are the avocados from containers that have had an accident - either arriving too hot or cold, or a quality issue preventing them from going to retail - on the spot market, where the price is more dependent on the market situation. The time of year also plays a role. The first few months of the year, the avocado market is often strong and we receive a bit less supply because importers can sell their category 2 trade even faster to a market trader. In this period, there's enough supply on the market."

The variety of avocado does not really matter to Refruit. "For us, the country of origin is even more important. The oil percentage varies quite a bit between different countries. That's what we try to steer on when purchasing," Jan explains. "In principle, we can always make do with a batch of rejected avocados, including MRL exceedances or other restrictions. The challenge for us is to extract 100% of the oil from an avocado. That's quite a challenge, as there's no manual for it and every batch and country of origin is different. We analyze a lot of data, keep fine-tuning, and besides that, it's mostly a matter of keep trying and doing!"

According to Jan, the competition is mainly in the countries of origin, such as Kenya and Mexico. "Here in Europe, the competition is limited. The advantage over, for example, Spanish processors is that we are much closer to the source. And we pick up the avocados - via our house transporter TVB Transport - the same day. The residual streams we have left are used by a partner for the production of livestock feed and biogas."

Refruit works with processing machines that are also used for processing olives. "In theory, we could also produce olive oil, but for now, we have more than enough on our hands with the avocados," says Jan. The avocado oil is sold as crude oil to parties, mainly in Southern Europe, that refine and bottle the product. "There is plenty of demand. In the United States, it's already a hype to use avocado oil on the barbecue, and it's expected that this will also catch on in Europe."

For more information:
Jan Kraaijeveld
Handelsweg 190
2988 DC Ridderkerk
Mob: +31 (0)6 22 56 80 08
[email protected]

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