Demand mini vegetables peaks in December and cruise season

Various vegetables have a mini sibling; a niche product that mainly stands out because of the small size. “We see that demand for mini vegetables goes up in December,” says Harrie Meuwese, responsible for the import from France at TFC. “In addition, we see a surge during the cruise season.”

TFC’s trade includes a wide range of mini vegetables, of which the mini carrot, mini turnip and mini beetroot have a stable market. In addition, small amounts of other mini vegetables are imported, such as mini courgette, mini pak choi and mini patty pan, a small type of squash.



Delicacy
“We have direct import from Brittany of mini carrot, mini turnip and mini beetroot. Of these products, we get several shipments a week,” Harrie explains. “It’s really going very well.” The French mini vegetables are more expensive than the South African or Zimbabwean mini vegetables, but that’s reflected in a better quality. “In terms of quality, the French products are clearly better, and some people just go for that.”

The mini vegetables are available year-round, but demand peaks on two occasions: during the cruise season and in December. “We’re seeing that mini vegetables are often used on cruise ships, because they are more delicacy-like than regular vegetables. On cruise ships, a lot of attention is paid to cooking, and they want to serve up something special. Or they use the vegetables as a garnish.” Around the December holidays, the mini vegetables benefit from the consumer’s inclination to put exclusive products on the table. “In December, demand for anything that’s special is higher,” Harrie says.

Seasonal product
“The mini vegetables really aren’t different than the regular vegetables. The mini carrot is best known, and in reality, the flavour isn’t too different from the regular one,” Harrie continues. “The same applies to beets. There are white ones, yellow ones and Chioggia. The only difference is the size.” A mini beet is about a fifth of a regular beet in size. “It looks nice, and tastes good as well.”

During the winter months, the product range is expanded with a few seasonal products: the mini cabbages. “Mini red cabbage, mini white cabbage, mini green cabbage, mini cauliflower, mini romanesco,” Harrie says. “Those are true seasonal products, which we include in our range for about two months.” These cabbages are also imported from the French region. “We have a regular supplier there, who supplies the products.”

Niche market
The market for mini vegetables is stable. Harrie estimates the size of the Dutch market at about 500 packages, with a peak to 1000 packages in December. “It’s a real niche. The products are also very costly. The volume seems small, but a box with four trays of mini vegetables easily makes 25 Euro.” Within Europe, Germany is the biggest market for mini vegetables. “In general, we see there is more room in Germany for exotic fruit and vegetables in retail. The German consumer is also more prepared to pay more for products like these.” In addition to Germany, TFC supplies throughout Europe. Other markets for the mini vegetables include Scandinavia, France, Belgium and Austria.

Harrie doesn’t expect the product range will expand much further. “Our supplier does sometimes experiment with mini Belgian endive or mini parsnip for instance, but that isn’t really taking off. I think it’s not much use to expand the ‘gamme produit’. That won’t have much effect. In terms of cultivation it’s also more difficult, because it’s a delicate product.”


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