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Freelance importer Eddy Jager:

"Shift in orange market from oversupplied Egyptian market to limited overseas volumes"

This October, Eddy Jager is set to celebrate his 45-year anniversary in the fruit and vegetable trade. While he remains active in imports - primarily citrus from South Africa, Egypt, and South America, as well as stone and top fruits from South Africa - he no longer operates from a busy commercial department but rather from the comfort of his home. As a freelance importer, he lends his expertise to import companies from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain. "I'm at a stage in my career where I still have the desire to work, but not everything is a must-do. At the same time, I remain very fond of the dynamics of this sector, just not from behind a large sales desk every day."

"I work for a number of regular clients, managing imports from South Africa, South America, and Egypt. It's incredibly rewarding. For instance, in the Netherlands, I have three importers as regular clients, but I also work for Spain's Frutas E. Sanchez. I've been collaborating with these companies for years, and we know exactly what to expect from each other. That personal trust is hugely important. I'm not necessarily looking for more clients but rather aiming to deepen relationships with my existing ones. Especially with South Africa, there's still so much potential for growth," shares Eddy, who still visits his South African suppliers two to three times a year and also travels annually to South America.

"All my clients have their own reasons for hiring me, but the common thread is my experience and extensive contacts. This allows me to bring in suppliers that might otherwise have difficulty gaining access. Moreover, nearly all fruit and vegetable companies face staffing issues. For them, hiring specialized import expertise is an attractive option with significantly lower financial risks. From Spain, the language barrier also plays a role. Often, I act as the translator in these scenarios."

The overseas citrus season has now begun. Eddy mentions a somewhat challenging start, where weather conditions play a significant role. "In South Africa, we're seeing a lot of quality issues early in the season, and the volumes of lemons and oranges, in particular, are lagging behind previous years. The same is observed in Uruguay and Argentina, which have experienced an extremely wet period, and this will definitely impact the rest of the season."

"Moreover, in the orange market, we're dealing with an extremely low harvest in Brazil, causing juice prices to skyrocket. Many growers will opt to supply to the industry, where they face less risk and can get paid faster. This is quite a contrast to the situation with Egyptian oranges, where the fruit was practically worthless," explains Eddy. He has no ambition to expand his sourcing to other product groups. "My expertise truly lies in citrus, stone, and top fruits, and there's plenty of work for me within these categories."

"People sometimes ask if I wished I had taken on this freelance role sooner, but everything has its time. Moreover, I hadn't considered it before and enjoyed working with colleagues in the department. But now, I absolutely relish my role as the 'go-between' for exporters and importers. I'm 63 now, but as long as I continue to enjoy it and stay healthy, I hope to keep going for many more years!"

For more information:
Eddy Jager Global Sourcing Guidance

Kooikerlaan 2
2631 SZ Nootdorp
Mob: +31 (0)6 13847477
[email protected]

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