"It's completely nuts." Randolf Aaldijk of Origin Fruit Direct is clearly frustrated. In the past few weeks, he has spent a lot of energy on things he'd rather not worry about daily. Take the new legislation regarding the cold treatment of South African oranges. New phytosanitary rules came into force on July 22. Some 1,200 containers did not meet the exact phytosanitary requirements and remained stuck in port in the Netherlands. "So the containers are en route, but without the correct phytosanitary conditions, you can't do anything with them," sighs the importer.
"More and more containers are being released, but those in the Dutch fruit import and cooling sectors are busy, 24/7, with these new phyto requirements. The fruit has to undergo the cold treatment here. And the European retail sector has zero understanding." According to Randolf, a longer transition period was the least that could be done about this. "In South Africa, they're trying their utmost to comply with the new regulations, but, at a certain point, they can no longer work with those standards," he says.
The first containers with the correct phyto certification have since arrived on the European market. Randolf does not expect an oversupply any time soon. "The current market is fantastic. Everything that's released is sold immediately. Valencias in telescope boxes are priced between €16 and €18. In open tops, the oranges are selling for €18 to €20. The political decision-making has created a scarcity, with all that entails, in the market. There's even talk of Southern European oranges becoming expensive. They badly want that," he concludes.