Ate Kalsbeek and Arjan Verhagen, Halls:

European avocado market still enormous potential for growth

Halls, a South African producer of exotics, is celebrating their 125th anniversary. The company has sales offices in France and the U.K, and as of this year, the company is being represented by Ate Kalsbeek and Arjan Verhagen in the Netherlands. The majority of Halls' assortment is made up of year round avocados that mainly come from their own farms (they are also one of the largest producers in South Africa). Alongside South Africa, the year round availability is complemented with supply from partners in Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Chili, Peru, Colombia and Israel.

Ate Kalsbeek and Arjan Verhagen

Along with the Hass avocados, Halls also produces the green varieties Fuerte, Pinkerton and Ryan. Together with the sales offices in France and the U.K. the volumes are sold from one central system, "This makes it possible to offer the best sizes for each market, and to give the growers a good return. Our focus is on retailers and exporters in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia," says Ate. "Halls has a solid reputation in the market, dares to invest and gives us time to grow the company. The challenge for us over the next few years will be to expand the Ready to Eat assortment and increase the customer base."

This past summer Halls introduced new packaging for their Ready to Eat mangoes and avocados. The avocados and mangoes are ripened together with the logistic service Cool Control, "We are very close to it all, we see our products everyday. We do not compromise when it comes to quality. The only way to build anything is to continuously deliver top quality products. Unfortunately, not all companies know how to ripen their products well, and that is reflected in the quality of products available on the market."

Halls expects a sharp increase in the Ready to Eat volume, "Right now only 10% of our volume is already ripe when the customer buys it, but this will increase in the coming years. Sales of Ready to Eat exotics has exploded in recent years, but is still considered in its infancy. Avocados are booming," continues Ate. "The European market is far from saturated. The average consumption per household in Europe could double. There is enormous pressure on the farms to meet the demand for trees. The import volumes coming to Europe are also under pressure. The growing global demand for avocados has had an impact on prices."

In addition to avocados, Halls grows lychees in Nelspruit, South Africa which will be available starting in December. Currently Halls has sweet potatoes and Brazilian ginger. Next week the first Kent mangoes from Brazil will arrive, after which the season will be followed by Ecuador and Peru. The first blueberries from Argentina are expected before the end of this month. "Avocados are really our base, and they are doing very well. In the coming years we would like to expand our assortment to ten to fifteen products," concludes Arjan. 

For more information:
Arjan Verhagen
Ate Kalsbeek
Honderdland 131
2676 LT Maasdijk
Tel: 0174-791043

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