"Jan Engelen: "We believe in export outside Europe, but Europe remains most important"

30 millionth strawberry kilo auctioned

After the Russian import ban, many companies started looking for new markets to sell their products. Veiling Hoogstraten had been doing this for a while longer. They visited annual trade shows in Europe and beyond, to make new contacts. "Still, the largest part, 85 to 90% of products, remains in Europe. And it will be like that for a number of years," says Jan Engelen, sales and marketing manager of Veiling Hoogstraten. "This has mainly got to do with the vulnerability of our products."

Outside Europe
Jan notes that the world is getting smaller, so it's logical that they're also keeping their eyes and ears open beyond Europe. "One limitation is that our products are sensitive, and for markets farther away we have to use air freight, making the product more expensive. Nevertheless, we definitely believe in export opportunities outside Europe. The Middle East, for instance, we've been looking there for a number of years and have gained a lot of experience there. For us, a number of large metropolises would be interesting, having a large concentration of people with an eye and a budget for a better product. So we're certainly going for that. The largest part of the 15% we sell outside Europe, is going to Russia. A somewhat smaller part goes to the Middle East, Canada and the Far East." He sees that this season, the influence of the Russian boycott had less of an impact than expected. "Tomatoes still had a rather acceptable autumn, although bell peppers did suffer from it. It's certainly an important market, and in some periods of the season even determinative."

Still, Hoogstraten keeps focusing on Europe. "Europe is our largest sales region, something we certainly mustn't forget. We keep working on it, so that we remain the preferred supplier. We are pleased that our growers are making a big effort and follow the market well. Quality and innovation remain our two main pillars."

In the years that Hoogstraten has been doing business, there were some shifts in sales markets, but the auction also established many permanent partners. "The Belgian market is very important, and remains important. Belgian retailers strongly prefer the Belgian product, and they're very loyal in that respect. Other important sales markets are France and Scandinavia. England and Germany used to be very determinative, but they have more of their own production now. It's mostly a matter of filling the gaps there now."

30 millionth kilo strawberries
The strawberry price is currently at a high level. "The mid price varies between 7 and 8 Euro per kilo, across all sorts. Perhaps that's even on the high side, but it signifies the high demand and short supply. Internationally speaking, not much is available yet. The better qualities from Morocco and Egypt are still to come, and we certainly notice that in sales."

Strawberry supply at Veiling Hoogstraten reached 30,000,000 kg yesterday. The 30 millionth kilo was bought by Patrick Corijn of the Vanco NV company in Belgium

Supply from Veiling Hoogstraten will be close to 31 million kg at the end of the year. Since last winter, Veiling Hoogstraten is also a year-round supplier of strawberries, thanks to Sonata's illuminated cultivation. In the coming winter period, high-grade Sonata cultivation will also guarantee a year-round availability of strawberries.

The 2014 strawberry season can thus be counted among the better years, in terms of production, quality and pricing. Following a weak spring, a stable summer and good autumn were noted in all aspects.

Veiling Hoogstraten thus confirms its role as a reliable year-round supplier of great strawberries. The other main products for Veiling Hoogstraten are also increasing in volume: 80 million kg for tomatoes, and 29 million kg bell peppers. The acreages for 2015 are expected to further increase in volume when it comes to fruiting vegetables. This evolution makes Veiling Hoogstraten - in the limited range of products they offer - a top player.

For more information:
Jan Engelen
Veiling Hoogstraten
Loenhoutseweg 59
Hoogstraten - Belgium
Tel: +32 3 3400233
Fax: +32 3 3147844

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