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Jan Timmermans:

"Offering fruit residue free is a chance for top fruit sector"

Last night the members of the Comité Fruithandel of Frugi Venta met. A better date couldn't have been planned, considering the opening of the Chinese market that same morning. President Jan Timmermans look back at a special top fruit season with reasonable prices, which went to the high level of the previous year in the spring but the season still ended with a clearance for the new harvest.

Jan Timmermans

Of course, the current harvest was also mentioned. "A large harvest of fine quality, but not one people are happy with. The Russian boycott has a huge impact on our trade. During the Cold War we were afraid of the Russians coming, now we're unhappy they won't," indicated Timmermans. "On the other hand this situation also offers us opportunities. A large harvest, low prices and a good quality: you can't do better when looking for new customers."

Below chart in Dutch:

The latest top fruit prognosis figures: 350,000 tonnes of apples (+12%) and 341,000 tonnes of pears (+4%)

The president quickly reviewed the exceptional situation that both imported apples and Dutch apples could be sold for nothing. "Reasonable apples for free were still too expensive. I had never seen anything like it and hope never to again. The Dutch supermarkets' offers caused a considerable cull, but in the end we can only be thankful."

"We have too large a harvest to produce just for Holland. That's not a bad thing, but we also have to deal with a larger plantation in Eastern Europe, where the growers are producing a better quality of apples for much lower ground prices. This means that we are now in a situation where we need disasters or frost damage in these countries. Luckily we still have a top quality of club varieties, but even with this it's a challenge to make a bit extra."

Residue free
Jan called out to the present traders to keep hammering quality. "They have been too easy-going here and there, which made the consumer look towards imported fruit. The 'Elstar, Altijd Raak' (Elstar, always right) campaign proves that it's not too late." He named offering residue free fruit as a possibility for the Dutch top fruit sector to define itself. "Thoughts on this will vary, but our company is doing tests on pears, and although it's difficult, it isn't impossible. Internationally and Europe wide we could have a leading role in this."
Jan denounced the laziness with which people sometimes speak about opening new markets. "It sometime seems like all you have to do is open a door, but we've been working on China for eight years." He indicated with an anecdote that it's important to see chances: "In the fifties a shoe maker sent two sons to Africa to get to know the export possibilities. One phoned back after a day and said nothing could be made, as everyone was in bare feet. The second phoned up enthusiastically to tell him to bring machines over as soon as possible, because everyone was in bare feet.."

Changing thinking for fruit traders during a clinic: Wim van der Schoot (De Groot International), Rolf Vrolijk (Total Produce), Anton Rutten (Jan Oskam), Fabien Dumont (Fruitmasters) and Alex van Ieperen (Direct Fruit Services).

It turned out to be a good little push for the changing thinking clinic, where the traders learned the difference between the 'yeah, but' thinking and the 'yeah, and' thinking.
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