The Dutch wholesaler, VOF De Best, has seen the demand for exotics rise as Christmas draw nears. But Michel van den Berg adds that market prices for many of these fruits are under pressure. "You can see how important the hospitality industry is for fruit and vegetable sales." Exotics don't form the central part of VOF De Best's business. They complement the range. "We not only have mangos, avocados, and papaya. Although, you could wonder if these are still true exotics."

"Their supply and demand now remain fairly constant throughout the year. We also have passionfruit and lychees. We flew in the first premium South African lychees in week 48. These have a very short, two-month sales period. And prices are good then. Volumes increase later in the year, especially when Madagascar re-enters the market with large volumes. Then prices drop considerably. This, too, remains a product that we sell mainly to the hospitality industry," says Michel.

Passionfruit, cape gooseberries, and limes prices are also under significant pressure. "These are genuine hospitality products. Alternative sales channels now have to found for these on the open market. That's not easy. On the other hand, many exotic products are selling better because of COVID-19. That's because people are much more concerned with healthy eating. For example, pomegranate sales have increased, as have those of kakis and fresh figs."

"We also shouldn't forget that the entire fruit and vegetable range has increased considerably in recent years. In the past, people didn't know what a khaki was. And, as I mentioned, avocado, mango, and pineapple have become quite standard throughout the package. Nowadays, greengrocers don't leave the market without these exotics," Michel concludes.

Michel van den Berg
Best AGF