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Bart Zeevenhoven, Scherpenhuizen:

“Snack tomato market grows with expansion”

The pressure on the snack tomato market is high just before the closing of the Dutch season. Dutch snack tomatoes still manage to find their way, but imports are currently more than sufficient, which is resulting in mediocre prices. Yet Bart Zeevenhoven is still in high spirits. It has been a good snack tomato season, and the salesman of Scherpenhuizen also has faith in the market for next season.

While the final Dutch tomatoes are trying to find their way to final customers, the market is already being overrun by product from Southern Europe and North Africa. “We should especially not underestimate Morocco,” says Zeevenhoven. “We think we can map out the Spanish sector quite well, but I am actually convinced we cannot. We know even less about the Moroccan cultivation, and Tunisia is also growing, in part thanks to Dutch cultivators who have moved there. Add to that the mediocre sales in November, and that the weather is not helping. Orders are small, and we just have too much product when adding up supply from all of the countries.”

The moderate situation on the market, however, cannot spoil Zeevenhoven’s mood. “It will become slightly easier when the Netherlands leaves the market. We will be headed towards December by then, the holidays, and that is a tipping point.” Moreover, the season has been very good up till now. “We were driven by retail from the start, actually. Hail damages occurred in June, and from then it was a matter of having just enough supply or having a shortage. We did not have surplus stock once.” 

Retailers chose specific strains
Last season, it was noticeable that retailers chose a specific strain, and that they wanted only that strain. “That was the driving force from the start, but we did not get any kind of communication about that until the moment of sowing. Cultivators who had the correct strain had it made. For the new year, their choice of strain has already been made clear,” Zeevenhoven continues. “They want the overall picture to be just right. A product has to look great, it has to be shiny and colourful, and most of all, it needs to have the correct flavour. The flavour decides everything.”

Furthermore, Zeevenhoven sees colour diversity increasing. “We specifically ask cultivators for colours. Yellow, but also brown and orange for the mixes. It takes some time for this to become conventional, and you obviously never know when that moment is, as a supplier, but we have noticed that colours have been doing very well in recent years.” It is remarkable that acceptance of the yellow tomatoes took quite a long time, and that it took orange and brown tomatoes far less long before they were accepted. “It looks as if consumers are more used to colours besides red.”

Even after a good season, there is always a reason for unrest. For example, the expansion of snack tomatoes, which Zeevenhoven estimates to be 40 to 50 hectares in the Benelux. “But that sector has been growing for three years already. We have been worrying for three years already, and for three years, the market has absorbed it. Of course, there will come a time when the increase will be slower than the new expansions, but that has not yet happened in recent years, and for now, the market will continue to grow. The majority of the expanding parties already have customers for their additional production. There do not appear to be many undecided horticulturalists, they all seem to know what to do with their product.” 

For more information:
Bart Zeevenhoven
Scherpenhuizen B.V.
Tel: +31(0)40 258 4670
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