As the end of the year approaches, Kiem-X's Wim Bouden is gradually turning his attention to a 'normal' festive season. "We've had two extremely difficult years with the pandemic," he says. "Last year, Belgian eateries had to close at 11 pm, which put a damper on parties where sprouts are pre-eminently consumed. Traditionally, from the week before Christmas, it's madness. Now that everything seems normal again, we want to return to that usual hustle and bustle."
"We can, without a doubt, say, for us, 2020 and 2021 were disastrous. But I think that was the case for many people in the industry. Now that everything's open again, we hope for a great Christmas again. That's undoubtedly what makes the year." Things are looking good so far. "We had a fantastic summer with beautiful weather," Wim explains.
"That, of course, meant many customers on the Belgian coast were hectic. But, again, it was a distorted picture. With the high energy and packaging prices, the good money we made in the summer goes directly to costs. It's a little frustrating to sell such volumes and not make any progress. There's no profit to be made."
Wim is, nonetheless, eagerly looking forward to Kiem-X's busiest time of the year. "It's currently still a little quiet, but, toward mid-December, sales gradually start climbing. Our clients build up stock, and the week before Christmas, our nursery becomes too small. We use every inch of it. That's how it was before the pandemic, anyway. I hope this year will be the same. Things are looking good, reservations in local restaurants are up, and the Colruyt Group, our biggest customer, is making nice forecasts."
Wim explains that inflation is causing some uncertainty, but that should not spoil the fun. "Sprouts are a niche product and a bit pricier. Some buyers could opt for a cheaper option, but we still expect many orders. Many people will be celebrating Christmas at home. There everything goes and is more affordable. Then leek, beet, and red radish shoots are always top sellers. The whole range sells well in the run-up to the holidays, but, for now, it's mainly still the classics," he concludes.