"How to put it nicely," Dirk van Nieuwkerk of Anaco Greeve responds to the question whether business is going well. "I've been in this trade for a long time, and I've never seen it this bad in the run-up to Christmas. Demand just isn't coming."

It doesn't matter what product Dirk van Nieuwkerk of Anaco is talking about. Bananas, oranges, tomatoes. Not a single product is doing well these days, although the week before Christmas normally causes an upturn in the market. "Now it's been rather quiet, rather lacklustre for a while. Normally, things improve around this time, and demand goes up. This year, that's not happening at all. There is no additional demand." Prices aren't declining, but aren't increasing either. "Normally, when prices are lower, the market gets going. That's not happening either. It's got nothing to do with prices, it's just that demand isn't big enough. Not enough is being bought."

Van Nieuwkerk can't explain the bad situation. "Russia has something to do with it. Mixed trucks used to go that way. Now you're missing those sales: two pallets of plum tomatoes that way, another pallet this way and a pallet of whatever to fill up the truck. That's not happening now. But what is the exact difference that makes? That's hard to determine. And it's not just Russia: the whole of Europe is quiet."
It's possible that next week will see a resurgence. "The fresh products are being bought in supermarkets this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So we should, in principle, see results after Christmas. I'm curious to see what will happen."