As far as apples are concerned, Leonard is sure: "The Elstar remains the showpiece," says the commercial director. "A lot of volumes of this variety are still grown, but the rise has aged and the quality is reducing. To keep the market open for this apple over the next few years we are starting a course to grow the mutants Elrosa and the Excellent in 2016. Over the next few weeks we will outline a plan to help the grower take the step and finalise the finance, and speed up the introduction of the new mutants. As a sector we cannot just rely on the club varieties and with the renewed approach we can reduce the drop out of the standard Elstar."
The Netherlands a pear country
As far as cultivation is concerned the pear is overtaking the apple, and in contrast to the apples, our main market is export. Enough reason to pay a lot of attention to that. "In collaboration with NFO and VLAM we want to boost the consumption of the pear in Germany again. This is done through countless samples, the results of which tell us how to best market the pear. Over the coming season we hope to be able to quadruple the number of samples to 1300."
The Conference pear can now also be found in China. With 1.3 billion people, this is the third largest consumers market in the world, characterised by the large regional differences and a sales market which is mainly in the large cities. In 2009 we introduced the pear at the fair in Hong Kong and ever since then the volume to China has been growing year by year. Besides the samples we are also creating a Holland image with Delft blue colours and a windmill. This might be cliched but very recognisably Dutch."
Entering Brazil coincided with the devaluation of the Real. "That was the moment I thought: keep pushing," says Leonard. "It's a country with 200 million inhabitants and the largest economy in South America. A few weeks ago we started with the first containers and it is the same here: taste first, then sell."
And finally the Migo pear: the cross between the Conference and the Doyenné d'Hiver which can be eaten anywhere and everywhere because this pear doesn't drip. In September the kick off took place as an alternative to the Conference. "We want to modernise the pear supply with the Migo. We are growing towards a global pear market in which not every pear is suitable for every market. To stay out of the way of the introduction of the Conference we are focussing on the European market with Migo for now."